Terra Environmental Research Institute students compete in robotics challenge

By David Landy….

Pictured (l-r) are Robotics Academy students Wesley Bowman, Ryne Neer, Jake Landy, Sophia Reyes-Hadsall, teacher Nydia Molina, Jackie Carbajal and Brenda Abreu Molnar.

The Robotics Academy at Miami-Dade County’s first LEED “green” high school, Terra Environmental Research Institute, in Kendall, recently returned from competing in the internationally renowned U.S. FIRST Robotics regional competition in Orlando.

Each year, FIRST (For Inspiration of Research, Science and Technology) devises a new challenge for students and their volunteer professional engineering mentors to design, engineer and construct a robot. Then they write the programming code to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

The FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) is dubbed a “varsity sport for the mind” that combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. It’s as close to “real world” engineering that a student can get.

This year’s challenge was branded “Logomotion” which required the design of a robot to place inflatable tubes on a scoring grid nine feet tall and then deploy a minibot to climb a 10-foot pole.

Terra placed highest of all Miami-Dade County Schools entered in the competition, but more importantly the students had access to a unique applied learning environment led by highly skilled mentors and school staff and compete with other students from around the country.

The program requires a significant amount of funding, which this year was supported by Motorola and JCPenney.

As a result of the students’ involvement in the FIRST program, they eventually can  qualify to apply for over $14 million in college scholarships.

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