Spartan Robotics team competes in qualifying event

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Photo by shawn nowlin
Members of the Spartan Robotics team stand behind their machine.

Approximately 40 high schools from Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Indiana and Washington D.C. recently participated in a qualifying event for the FIRST Chesapeake District Championships that will be held in Richmond in April 2017.

Held at Blacksburg High School (VA) from March 3-5, the purpose of the competition was to bring together some of the brightest and best robotics teams in the country.

Salem High was one of the schools chosen to participate. Consisting of 23 students in grades 9 through 12, the Spartan Robotics team finished the weekend with a record of 4-5-1. “We had some initial difficulties that we had to overcome but the students learned a lot in the process,” Salem High Technology Teacher Randolph Brinkley said. “Students truly learned about engineering concepts, robotic design, fabrication, tool usage and safety, computer programming and team work.”

To prepare for the competition, Randolph said his team started working in January and didn’t take many days off. “We spent six weeks frantically building a robot, which was about 190 to 195 hours’ worth of work,” he said.

“At a robotics competition, you will see people working on robots, teams battling teams, cheering crowds and activities for visitors,” Georgia Honts said prior to the competition. “You can learn to drive a simple robot, make crafts and play games while learning all about FIRST.”

As long as 100 percent is given, most people can live with the results. “Our next competition is in Richmond on March 24-26 at the Central Virginia District Event where we will compete against 38 team,” Randolph said. “With over $50 million in scholarships available and internships with major corporations as part of the rewards, the team is working hard to win at competitions and to promote STEM education in Salem.”