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Virginians Make A Mark At FIRST World Robotics Championship

Team Sparky

Virginia high school FIRST Robotics teams and a longtime adult volunteer from Hanover County earned accolades at the FIRST Robotics World Championship that concluded Saturday, April 26th in St. Louis, Missouri.

Team “Sparky 384” from Henrico County’s J.R. Tucker H.S. was honored for its international charitable efforts, winning the Engineering Inspiration Award, which carries a $5,000 prize and guarantees the team a slot at the world championship next year.

In addition to equipping and mentoring elementary school robotics teams in the city of Richmond, members of Team Sparky started a project to collect donated LEGO blocks for distribution to school children in the U.S., Uganda and Haiti. Team Sparky’s “LEGOS Change Kids” program has donated thousands of dollars’ worth of the plastic blocks to underprivileged children.

Also earning bragging rights at the St. Louis championship:

  • FIRST Robotics Team “Triple Helix” from Menchville H.S. in Newport News, which was a member of the winning coalition in its division.
  • And FIRST Robotics Team “ILITE” from Battlefield H.S. in Haymarket, which won its division’s Innovation in Control Award.

In addition, Allen Bancroft, operations manager at Ashland-based Flexicell, Inc. was honored in St. Louis as an Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. As a Chief Judge Advisor for FIRST, Bancroft has devoted countless hours over the past 15 years to train and organize volunteer judges who oversee FIRST robotics contests worldwide. Flexicell is a longtime supporter of Virginia robotics.

More than 12,000 students from the U.S. and 38 other nations converged on St. Louis April 23-26 to test their teamwork and engineering skills. Teams competed with custom-built robots in contests designed for students aged 6 to 18. Eleven FIRST Robotics Competition teams and two FIRST Tech Challenge teams from Virginia qualified for the worldwide competition.

FIRST is an international non-profit organization designed to inspire young people to study engineering and science to succeed in the technology-driven future.

Learn more at virginiafirst.org.