Rockwood Robotics is sending six teams to the FIRST Tech Challenge Missouri state championships, which will be held Saturday, March 7, at Missouri S&T University in Rolla.
The Bosons and the Quarks from Eureka High, the Baryons, Gluons and Luxons from Marquette High and the Leptons from Rockwood Summit High all qualified for the state competition through regional events. They will compete against high school robotics teams from around Missouri for award recognition and a chance to qualify for the FIRST world championships, which will be held April 15-16 in Houston, Texas.
Learn more about Rockwood's qualifiers:
Bosons - winner of Inspire and Control awards, captain of Winning Alliance and second-place Design Award at Dec. 7 qualifier at Saint Louis University
Quarks - winner of Innovate Award, second-place Connect Award and third-place Inspire Award at Dec. 7 qualifier at Saint Louis University
When Atharva Bhagwat moved to Eureka before his sophomore year, he knew he wanted to gain some hands-on experience to go along with his STEM classroom education. He joined Eureka Robotics and, two years later, one of the senior captains of the Quarks couldn't have asked for a better way to fulfill that desire.
not only working with robotics and learning the STEM aspect of it, but being
able to work with others on a team, leading a team, working with engineers from
Boeing, outreach, presenting to groups and teaching them about robotics and
promoting interest in it," Bhagwat said. "It’s been a great experience to have the chance to do
all this, not just the engineering aspect.”
Aside from designing and building a functioning robot, then piloting it through a series of tasks on competition day, teams earn awards for activities such as partnering with businesses for sponsorships and holding community events to spread the sport to younger students.
Alex Meier and Reese Atwood, two freshman Bosons team members, already knew they wanted to join robotics by the time they started at Eureka because they had friends on the team and had already gained some experience with robotics in middle school.
ultimate goal is to have fun and learn something, but we definitely want to get
to worlds," Meier said. "That would be an experience for everybody."
Baryons - winner of Connect Award, second-place Inspire and Think awards at Dec. 7 qualifier at Saint Louis University
Gluons - winner of Inspire Award at Jan. 11 qualifier at St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley
Luxons - winner of Innovate Award, third-place Inspire Award at Feb. 22 qualifier at Fox High School
Ajay Krishnaswamy was just a freshman on the Baryons when they advanced to worlds in 2018. Now a junior and one of the team captains, he can't wait for the chance to go back.
amount of innovation and young minds coming together at worlds was an extremely
enriching experience," Krishnaswamy said. "The teams from places like China, Israel, those people came
up with such innovative and out-of-the-box ideas that we were blown away. We felt like we were in another world. No pun intended."
With a program as robust and competitive as Marquette, it could be the Gluons or the Luxons that stand in the Baryons' way to worlds. But that's part of the joy of having three qualifiers. This is the first time in the program's history that all three teams advanced directly to states from their regionals.
think of the other two teams as part of our team as well," said junior Nithin Vijay, a captain on the Luxons. "I’d be really happy for another one of our teams to go because I feel like they’re part of us. We communicate and talk about ideas with other teams. It brings out what
FIRST really means: communication with everyone.”
Robotics gives participants the unique opportunity of taking STEM concepts learned in the classroom and pairing them with social skills such as working in small groups to attain a goal, thus contributing to the larger whole of a robotics team. Marquette's teams have also participated in more than 20 STEM science fairs this year, hosted multiple meets and scrimmages, presented at the science center, started two summer camps, built a greenhouse for Marquette and collaborated with the Saint Louis University Engineering Department to create their world-class robots.
does a really great job with promoting STEM education, especially through
robotics and rigorous science and math classes," said Arjun Khorana, a senior captain on the Gluons. "We’ll be using these concepts and skills in our future. I’m super
happy that all of us are able to use what we’ve learned in our
classes in a real-world scenario, and it’s actually bringing what we’re trying
to learn and understand to fruition.”
Leptons - first pick on the Winning Alliance at Feb. 1 qualifier at Oakville High School
In the preliminary round of a robotics competition, teams are randomly paired into "alliances," which compete against other alliances to earn points for completing tasks. After that round, the top-performing teams get to choose their alliance members to compete for prizes in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Rockwood Summit's Leptons were the first choice of a team from Rolla Technical Institute at their qualifier, moving on to state as part of the winning alliance.
"It's a big accomplishment," said Leptons senior Tim Kellermann. "At the beginning of the year, we just had our eyes set on making something that worked. To come this far is pretty impressive."
Kellermann is in his first year participating in robotics, which he joined to find another outlet to practice coding.
"My favorite part is having a vision, starting off with just a picture and saying, 'If we can make this linear slide go up and handle a block, that would be fantastic,'" Kellermann said. "Now we're here and we made it to state. It's kind of amazing."