FIRST Tech Challenge or FTC is a team competition, where students design, build, and program robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. Robots are built from a reusable platform, powered by android technology, and can be coded using a variety of levels of Java-based programming.
Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.
Heritage Middle School FTC Coach, Dustin Thomas, stated that FTC has allowed many of his students to find their niche where they can grow and use their talents of interest. He also emphasized the advanced level of competition, as middle school and high school students compete against one another.
"All grades compete or could be allied with each other,” said Thomas. “It really is impressive to see middle schoolers compete against students much older with more experience than them.”
This year’s competition is about incorporating the A in STEAM (Arts) and is called Centerstage. Teams must navigate their robot autonomously and player-controlled to score points.
The middle school teams at Frenship have been meeting twice a week in preparation for the competition season. The teams continue to improve throughout the season by fine-tuning their roles and sharpening their skills.
The next competition is the League Championship on Saturday, February 10 hosted by Lubbock-Cooper Middle School. Students of any age are encouraged to attend and watch the competition to inspire curiosity in the program. From there, if a team is awarded at the contest they will advance to the Regional Championship.
Thomas stated that the FTC program benefits students in various ways, from advanced learning to promoting self-growth.
"Students who are advanced in coding or building skills find a place to continue growing their interest,” said Thomas. "The program also encourages students to grow on a social level as they need to work together as a team and with students from other schools.”
Good luck at the League Championship Tigers!