Robotics teams from five Hawaii high schools secured berths yesterday at the international championships in St. Louis.
An alliance of students from Waialua, McKinley and Kealakehe high schools won the FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition, qualifying for the FIRST Robotics Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis April 27-30.
They won two of three matches against an alliance from Baldwin, Waiakea and Lahainaluna high schools.
Waiakea qualified for the St. Louis championship by winning the Engineering Inspiration Award, according to Corrie Heck, chief coordinator for the Hawaii Robotics Organizing Committee.
Waianae High qualified by winning the Rookie All-Star Award, Heck said.
“I kept reminding the kids we made history,” said Waianae robotics coach Weyland Bailey, a math teacher at the school. “This was the first time we ever had robotics at Waianae. The kids got to use tools they never used before. They got to use the computer. They worked together as a team to problem-solve and troubleshoot.”
Sacred Hearts Academy qualified two weeks ago at a regional competition in Massachusetts.
In the annual robotics challenge, teams must solve a common engineering problem within six weeks using a standard kit of parts and a common set of rules.
This year, competing on a 27-by-64-foot area, the robots earned points by picking up inflatable tubes in the shape of squares, circles and triangles and hanging them on a rack in a specific order. Robots could also deploy minibots to climb 12-foot vertical poles for additional points.
More than 1,000 students representing 32 public, private and charter schools from Hawaii and Australia participated in the fourth annual competition at the University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center. The competition included 55 qualifying matches and a finals bracket match-up of the top 24 teams.
FIRST Robotics is one of six programs supported by the Hawaii Robotics Organizing Committee, including FIRST LEGO League, Underwater ROV, Botball, VEX Robotics and Micro Robotics. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.