FIRST Robotics: Brain Power in Action

HomeFIRST Robotics is an amazing organization, founded  in 1989 with a mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders.

Founder Dean Kamen articulates his vision for FIRST, “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

For years, ThinkFun’s CEO Bill Ritchie has participated as a guest judge – here’s a fun video he shared of a tournament in action! Recently, ThinkFun was thrilled to support the brilliant local teens of Herndon High School’s FIRST Robotics Team. This team recently wrapped up an amazing season, and their coach shared the following update – enjoy!


This past weekend Herndon Robotics participated in the DC Regional FIRST robotics competition!  When we went to Raleigh 2 weeks before, we finished 49th out of 54.  In DC, my team ended up 2nd out of 59!  The finals are best 2 out of 3 matches and we crushed the other alliance in the quarter finals; had a super intense semi-finals where we lost the first match, and thought we lost the second one and were out (unreliable real-time scoring) when we had actually won by 5 points, and won the third match taking us to the finals… Unfortunately, while we won the first round of the finals, one of our alliance partners’ robot died in that round and they were unable to repair it and we lost the next 2 matches.  But by keeping our 2nd place standing, we won a wild-card spot to the Championship in St. Louis.

DC is where our team submits essays for some pretty big awards that are based on what your team does besides build a robot.  We won the Engineering Inspiration Award thanks to our stepping up and adopting a team from Israel by providing batteries and power tools for them to use since they could not bring their own, for our amazing outreach, including taking our interactive SquareBots to the Udvar-Hazy Center’s Halloween event, Air and Scare and to the Moon and Beyond Event, for our Robotics Poetry book, and for our team creating an animation contest for other teams after Autodesk cancelled the animation contest they had run for more than a decade.  The judges we’ve lined up for this contest include judges from Pixar, Autodesk, Disney, and the creator of Pinky and the Brain!

I could go on for hours about this team, so I’ll end it with a few pictures from the event!

Pic 1Pic 1: Our Human Player, Alex, feeding ED 14.0 while our driver, Megan (orange hat), looks on.  The robots can only hold up to 4 discs at a time, and will receive a penalty if carrying more than 4 (this includes any that may bet stuck on any part of the robot).

Pic 2Pic 2: Scoring Frisbees in the top 3 pt goal (other goals are worth 2 pts and 1 pt).

pic 3Pic 3: Our Chairman’s presentation group, Danny, Leah, and Alice. Their presentation was to 3 judges and is what made those judges send other judges to our pit to talk with the team some more and was key to us winning the Engineering Inspiration award.  The students talked to 13 judges total (15 if you count the 2 who ask solely about the robot and it’s abilities).

Again your support for our team this season is truly recognized and appreciated by all our members. The accomplishments listed in this email are just as much yours as they are the team members who were recognized this weekend.

Regards, Matthew L.

Herndon High School FIRST Robotics Team 116
Outreach Captain

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