FIRST robotics competition kickoff brings high school students to Lindenwood


FIRST Robotics competitors examine a scale model of the mechanism they will have to use in six weeks at the regional competition.
Photo by Mitchell Kraus

Mitchell Kraus Editor-in-cheif

Dozens of high school students, along with their parents and coaches, gathered at the Lindenwood Theater Saturday morning to kick off the 2018 FIRST Robotics Competition. 

The FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual event that brings together thousands of high school students from around the world who build robots to compete in a game against other robots. To keep things fresh year over year, the game changes. The new game is what Saturday’s gathering was about. 

Ella Emerick (left) and Dana Simpkin host the announcement at the Lindenwood Theater
Photo by Mitchell Kraus

Hosts Ella Emerick and Dana Simpkin welcomed the gathered students and introduced the event’s guest speakers before the video reveal. Emerick is a high school freshman who is participating in the competition, and Simpkin is a college student who participated in FIRST when she was in high school.

Guest speakers were Lindenwood President Micheal Shonrock and Vice President of Enrollment Management Terry Whittum, who welcomed the high school students and invited them to consider attending Lindenwood for college.

The event was only one of many regional events, all of which were held at the same time so that no one time zone could have an advantage over the other. Around 9:30 a.m. local time, a streaming video was projected onto the screen behind the presenters so that the crowd could watch in real time as this year’s game was revealed.

This year, the game will involve using robots in three stages. First, the robots must autonomously start and drive across a line to earn points. Second, the competitors will control the robots and attempt to load blocks onto three see-saw mechanisms; points are awarded for loading more blocks than the other team. Finally, all three of each team’s robots must lift themselves off the ground 12 inches using only a small bar for support. 

After the presentation, the teams were guided into the Boyle Family Gallery to view a plywood mock-up of the see-saw and bar mechanism that will be used in competition.

The teams have roughly six weeks to build their three robots. The FIRST St. Louis regional competition will be held starting March 7 at Chaifetz Arena in downtown St. Louis.