FIRST Robotics Qualifier Brings 200 to Derryfield

FIRST Robotics Qualifier Brings 200 to Derryfield

Elaine Loft, Staff Writer

The Athletic & Wellness Center was abuzz with activity on January 20, as eighteen robotics teams from around the state hustled to set up in time for the 10:00 a.m. start of the third FTC Qualifier event of the season. FIRST, founded by Dean Kamen, offers a progressive series of team robotics challenges for students aged 4-18. Derryfield has two robotics teams, the Binary Bots and the Fighting Cougars.

As host of the event, Derryfield stepped up to the plate, with faculty and staff volunteers trained to be members of the judging team, referees and announcers. Members of the Derryfield robotics teams, led by coaches Tom Eng and Steve Young, were in charge of organizing and orchestrating the nearly eight-hour extravaganza. Additional support came from other student volunteers, including members of the junior class. Thanks to the new Matarese Dining Commons, food was available to the 200 attendees throughout the course of the day.

Feedback from other schools was extremely positive. One coach, with students on the autism spectrum, really appreciated the extra effort and patience of the Derryfield judges. 

“The judge motioned to one of our students about his glasses, which were on the top of his head, to put them on. The student kept nodding. When the judge motioned from the top of his head to his eyes, the student picked up on that and put them on. Those small things really helped us.”

As hosts, Derryfield did not compete at the January 20 event. However, at the January 14 FTC Qualifier at Windham High School, the Binary Bots had the distinction of winning the Connect Award, for their STEAM outreach and mentoring efforts in the community.  They also qualified for the New Hampshire State Championships, and will be competing on Saturday, February 17, at NHTI.

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