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Westport School Competes in First Tech Challenge

Robots stacked plastic rings on polls at the First Tech Challenge at Greens Farms Academy in Westport. Photo Credit: Ken Liebeskind
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke before the First Tech Challenge in Westport on Saturday. Photo Credit: Ken Liebeskind

WESTPORT, Conn. – Two hundred and eighty seventh- through 12th-graders from schools in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey competed in the First Tech Challenge at Greens Farms Academy on Saturday, operating robots they built in the Ring it Up! game in an effort to qualify for a world championship in April.

The Greens Farms Academy Dragonoids were one of twenty-eight teams that competed in the challenge.

“The arm assembly was the hardest part,” said Van Barnet, a Greens Farms Academy senior and captain of the team. “We’re ready to compete and looking to do really well.”

An enthusiastic crowd observed the challenge, which was overseen by officials who supervised individual competitions between two teams, whose robots ran for 30 seconds before team members used joy sticks to prompt the robots to pick up plastic rings and stack them on poles.

Before the competition started, hardware and software inspections of the robots took place and students interacted with other teams to get information on design techniques. “Robotics is the only sport where you work together with the competition,” said Jack Kentfield, the emcee of the event.

Gov. Dannel Malloy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke before the challenge got under way, encouraging students to utilize their robotics skills to pursue careers in science and engineering.

The winning team will travel to St. Louis in April to compete against 200 teams from around the world, Kentfield said.

The competition is sponsored by FIRST (for inspiration and recognition of science and technology), a non-profit founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an inventor, to motivate students to pursue opportunities in science and technology.

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