BY CORRIE HECK – HONOLULU, HAWAII – Waialua High, McKinley High and Kealakehe High School robotics teams won this year’s FIRST in Hawai‘i Regional Robotics Competition, qualifying them to move on to the 2011 FIRST Robotics Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri, April 27-30.

In all, six teams from Hawai‘i schools have secured spots in the international championship, ensuring the Aloha State will be well represented in the prestigious competition dubbed the “Super Bowl of Smarts.”

After an exciting weekend of competition, including 55 qualifying matches and a high-energy finals bracket match-up of the top 24 teams, six Hawai‘i teams battled for the championship title including a three-team alliance of Baldwin, Waiakea and Lahainaluna High Schools and an opposing alliance of Waialua, McKinley and Kealakehe High Schools. In a best two-of-three match, the Waialua, McKinley and Kealakehe alliance won in the third match.

In addition to the tournament competition winners, the following recognitions were awarded to the teams of student competitors:

  • Regional Chairman’s Award: Greater Sydney High Schools, Sydney, Australia*
  • Engineering Inspiration Award: Waiakea High School*
  • Rookie All-Star Award: Waianae High School*
  • Dean’s List Students: Adria Fung, Sacred Hearts Academy; Eric Teshima, Kalani High School
  • Regional Finalists: Baldwin High, Lahainaluna High, Waiakea High
  • Gracious Professionalism Award Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson: Punahou School
  • Highest Rookie Seed: Waianae High School
  • Industrial Safety Award Sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories: Sacred Hearts Academy
  • Quality Award Sponsored by Motorola: Waialua High School
  • Coopertition Award (TM): Punahou School
  • Team Spirit Award Sponsored by Chrysler: The Kauaibots, including students from Island School,     Kapa‘a High, Waimea High, and Kauai High
  • Industrial Design Award: Kealakehe High School
  • Judge’s Award: Kapolei High School

*Indicates award recipient qualifies for the international championship.

The following Hawai‘i schools advanced to the international championship:

  • *Kealakehe High School
  • *McKinley High School
  • *Sacred Hearts Academy (previously qualified at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Regional Competition)
  • *Waiakea High School
  • *Waialua High School (also previously qualified at New York City Regional Competition)
  • *Waianae High School

More than 1,000 students representing 32 public, private and charter schools from across the state, as well as Australia, participated in the third annual Hawai‘i regional robotics competition, which took place this weekend at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

In this year’s challenge named “LOGO MOTION”, two alliances of three teams compete on a 27-by-54-foot field with poles, and earn points by hanging as many triangle, circle and square logo pieces as possible. Bonus points are earned for each robot that can hang and assemble logo pieces to form the FIRST logo.  Robots can also deploy Mini-Bots to climb vertical poles for a chance to earn additional points.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common engineering problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard “kit of parts” and a common set of rules. The competition allows students to apply academic knowledge and innovation, while developing teamwork, problem-solving and critical thinking skills that will better prepare them to continue their education and enter the workforce.

The 2012 FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition, the fifth annual event, is scheduled for the same weekend next March.

About Robotics Education in Hawai‘i

FIRST Robotics is one of six programs which are supported by the Hawai‘i Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC), including FIRST, FIRST LEGO League, Underwater ROV, Botball, VEX Robotics and Micro Robotics.

Recognizing the importance of promoting robotics education at an early age and sustaining students’ interest in STEM education throughout their schooling, Hawai‘i’s six robotics programs joined together to form the Hawai‘i Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC). The six of the robotics programs are coordinating efforts to promote robotics education in elementary, middle and high schools statewide.

To learn more about robotics education in Hawai‘i, visit the Hawai‘i Robotics Organizing Committee website at: www.hawaiiiroc.org.

Corrie Heck is the Chief Coordinator for the Hawai‘i Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC)

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