Neighbors | Zack Shively.Austintown hosted a FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition at the Austintown Middle School on Dec 16. While Austintown did not compete, their robotics teams did volunteer at the event. Pictured, schools practice for the competition.
Neighbors | Zack Shively.Only two schools in the Mahoning County participate in the FIRST Tech Challenge, Austintown and Jackson Milton. The latter school competed at the event on Dec. 16. The mentors of the Austintown teams hope to expand the number of schools in the county. Pictured, teams set up to compete.
Neighbors | Zack Shively.24 robotics teams from Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio competed at the Austintown Middle School. The competition gives students a fun way to learn STEM.
By ZACK SHIVELY
Schools from Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania came to the Austintown Middle School for a FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition on Dec. 16.
Austintown hosted the event and therefore could not take part in the competition. The school’s four high school robotics teams did volunteer their time to help make the competition run smoothly and one of Austintown’s robotics mentor, Andy Yantes, hosted the event.
The event saw 24 teams from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kent, Columbus, Pittsburgh and more. The closest school in the competition was Jackson Milton, the only other First Tech Challenge team in Mahoning County.
The teams practiced and competed in a “relic recovery“ game. The robotics games have a designated playing field. On the field, teams had to use their robots to move balls and boxes around and outside of the playing field to specified areas.
David Artykov, a chaperone for Horizon Science Academy Lorain, believes the students learn professionalism and cooperation through the robotics competition. Each team sits in the same area during lunch and before the competition, so they learn to be professional with other teams. The members on the same team need to learn how to communicate effectively to compete in the competition.
Austintown showed off another robotics program that they have at the district. Austintown’s Junior Lego League, a robotics team in the FIRST program, demonstrated their robot during opening ceremonies. The team consists of students from kindergarten to fourth grade. The high school robotics team teaches the students about robotics and helps them with their robot.
Rick Zimmerman, a lead mentor of the Austintown robotics team, said the program gives high school students an experience that is not taught in school. He continued to say that the program is great because the students learn so much while competing and having fun as a team.
He believes that the program has been a stepping stone in the students’ success. The program attracts brilliant students, he said, noting that they have had a number of former robotics team members go on to get full scholarships at YSU, Ashland University and other higher education schools.
Zimmerman and Yantes both hope to expand the number of FIRST Tech Challenge teams in the area. Ohio has more than 80 participating schools but only two from Mahoning County. They have reached out to Canfield and Cardinal Mooney to help them get programs running.
The FIRST Tech Challenge competition sees regional competitions from around the world, culminating in the world championship, which will take place in Detroit this year, according to the FIRST Tech Challenge website.