Students at Hazelwood West High School will join students from across the state on Saturday for the FIRST Robotics Competition at the Saint Louis Science Center.
Morgan Freeman calls the tech challenges created by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) the “super bowl of smarts.” Even President Obama agrees, saying it’s a great way to “show young people how cool science can be.”
FIRST sponsors a variety of competitions, and according the organization's website, 250,000 kids ages 6 to 18 compete at all levels.
A Brandeis Univeristy study on the FIRST competitions found that students who participate in FIRST competitions are 50 percent more likely to go to college and twice as likely to major in science or engineering. They're also more likely to get a post-graduate degree and more than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities.
A total of 16 teams will compete in the practice robotics competition on Saturday. Seven of those teams will move on to the Missouri State FTC Championship in Rolla. The winning two teams in Rolla will also have the opportunity to compete in the FIRST Robotics Championship at the Edward Jones Dome from April 25 through 28.
"This event is part of a significant effort to inspire our children to be workforce-ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow," said Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Science Center, in a press release.
The Saint Louis Science Center is a major sponsor and the main educational partner for FIRST Robotics in the St. Louis area.
"It promotes ingenuity, collaboration and a dedication to finding solutions and, most importantly, illustrates the impact that logical partnerships between schools, businesses and community organizations can have on education," Vescolani said.
Other area high schools participating include Seckman, Fox, Fort Zumwalt West, Fort Zumwalt East, Fort Zumwalt North, John Burroughs, Eureka High School, Webster Groves, St. Paul and O'Fallon, Illinois.
In December of last year, the Hazelwood West High School robotics team was featured in an HEC-TV series called Innovations is MindSport. Earlier that month, the team made it to the semi-finals in the FIRST Tech Challenge at St. Louis Community College.
Want to get involved with St. Louis First? The organization is looking for a number of volunteers, including coaches, mentors and educators, sponsors, planning committee members and more. Learn more on FIRST’s website.