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Local robotics team wins for second year
Sunday, March 17, 2013
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
For the second year in a row, a robotics team from the Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science and Technology in Martinsville was in the winner’s circle Saturday at the 2013 Virginia FIRST regional robotics competition.
The local students joined with teams from Midlothian and Franklin to create the winning alliance, according to Brian Pace, director of the Governor’s School.
“I’m extremely proud” of the students, Pace said. “They are absolutely wonderful. It’s a great, great group.”
Each individual team built a robot for the competition, Pace said. The local students began building theirs in January, finished in February and could not touch it again until the competition, he said.
The competition began Friday at the Stuart C. Siegel Center at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and concluded Saturday. It attracted 65 teams which competed in groups of three. Most of the students were from Virginia but some were from New York, Connecticut and other states, Pace said.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international organization whose mission is to transform modern culture by celebrating science and technology and encouraging more students to be interested in pursuing education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The local team’s name is STAG, which stands for Science, Technology and Gifted Students, Pace said.
The members are Stuart Beard, Haley Carter, Stephani Davis, Caleb Dillard, Preston Duff, Ashley Gravely, Bobby Griffith, William Hatchett, Ashley Hubbard, Jerry Joyce, Daniel Locklear, Brandon Martin, Abbey McGuire, Joe Mitchell, Yanisha Patel, Joseph Osenkowsky, Jamil Stafford and Vanessa Sanchez, who was unable to take part in the competition.
Pace said they all are from Henry County and Martinsville. They attend the governor’s school, local schools or are home-schooled, he added.
A little more than half the team members were on last year’s winning team, an experience which Pace said likely gave them an edge in this year’s competition.
Also, “we’ve got several adult mentors who helped” with the students, he said. “We couldn’t do it without them. It’s a team effort. We’ve done it so long that everyone knows their part.”
The students were “extremely excited” to win Saturday, Pace said.
Saturday’s victory qualifies the local team for the FIRST championship to be held April 24-27 in St. Louis. Pace said he will be spending the next few days trying to arrange funding for that trip.
The local team did not fare well at last year’s championship competition, he said, but he hopes that was a learning experience that will pay off this year.
Now, he said, the team knows what to expect and its robot is more consistent, which should help in the competition.