Southeast Missouri State University student publication

High schools work together at the FIRST Technology Robotics competition

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Robot looks to the audience while trying to complete it's task in FIRST robot competition.
Photo by Lily Niebrugge

On Jan. 29, teams from 12 different high schools took over SEMO’s recreational center to compete in the FIRST Technology Robotics Competition.

At the competition, teams were tasked with building robots to complete certain tasks, such as moving plastic tiles or throwing paper airplanes, within a short timeframe.

Program Delivery Partner for FIRST Technology challenge in Missouri, Leslie Steinmeyer, says that the program's main goal is to teach students new skills and help them get jobs in the future.

The students in our program learn a tremendous number of skills. They're learning problem-solving. They're learning engineering skills, as well as soft skills.” Steinmeyer said, “And through the process of our Dean's List finalist. They get a chance to put together a resume and do mock interviews which helps them find jobs or helps them when they go to apply for jobs.”

Steinmeyer goes on to say that everyone at the competition is very friendly and welcoming towards each other. The league encourages students to use the phrase “coopetition” to ensure that everyone treats each other with respect.

“Nobody here is cutthroat that parents are cheering for teams other than the team that their child is on,” Steinmeyer said. “This is not a tense competition. This is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the season, and at the Southeast, league teams help each other because we have what we call ‘coopetition’ where you treat your opposing team as though they're your teammate.”

The competition allows high schoolers to interact with students from other schools and share ideas.

Senior at Maryville Senior High, Grady Warren appreciates the opportunity to interact with his peers from other high schools that he may normally never meet.

“It gives a place for peers to interact with each other and make connections. I really like being able to see the other schools and being able to talk with them.” Warren said.

Students add the final touches to their robot minutes before it competes.
Photo by Lily Niebrugge

The process of working together to build the robot creates an opportunity for students to work together to accomplish a common goal.

Teacher at Cape Central High School and robotics coach Julie Fuehne is proud of her students because of their teamwork skills.

“They have great teamwork and great spirits and encourage each other and bank ideas off of each other,” Fuehne said.

The teams advancing to the Missouri/ Kansas Regional Championship in Rolla are the “Gearheads” from Leopold Junior and Senior High School, “Those Guys” from Jackson Senior High School and “MotorDame” from Notre Dame Regional High School.