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 renada School District logo, slogan Education, Training, Dreams, 253 South Main, P.O. Box 1940, Grenada, MS  38902-1940, 662-226-1606

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Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor


GHS Robotics

Ever heard the phrase, "Robots are the wave of the future"? Well, at Grenada High and Middle Schools, students in the new robotics club are using robots to expand their own futures! This year a team from the new club has taken on the challenge of competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge event for the 2016 – 2017 school year.

Sponsored by FIRST(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the FIRST Tech Challenge tests the teamwork, engineering, and problem solving skills of team members. FIRST, a non-profit charity founded in 1989, inspires young people's interest and participation in science and technology. By developing innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, the program builds self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. Students who participate in the FIRST program also become eligible for scholarships available only to team members.

The Grenada team, named Pure Imagination, consists of members from Grenada High School and Grenada Middle School. Team members are Kimhong Kangheng, Chrissy Page, Mason Pettit, Marlie Sturgis, Charlie Bounds, Andrew Ferguson, Dallin Foreman, Devin Guthrie, Hunter Provine, Orlando Purnell, and Chance Wortham. Team mentors, Ezzard Beane, GHS Assistant Principal and Ryan Melton, GMS Teacher, guide and offer advice as students design and construct their robot. The team meets once a week to discuss and prepare for the FIRST Tech Challenge competition.

Teams from all over the state participate in this exciting program. During the year, members construct a robot from specific parts, program the robot for particular tasks, and then compete against other teams to determine which robot dominates the competition. Teams not only compete against each other, but must also form alliances with other teams during the challenge to defeat other team combinations. Not only do members learn engineering and science skills, they also gain important teamwork and communication skills.

Pure Imagination members began their quest for robotic dominance on Saturday, September 10, 2016, with a trip to Copiah Lincoln Community College where they attended the opening session of FIRST Tech Challenge. During the session, members learned the exact challenge their robot will face during competition. Team members must now use the information to guide them as they design, build, and program their robot to meet the challenges ahead.

During the year, as students create and experiment with the robot, they are required to keep an engineering notebook and to participate in fundraising to help cover the costs of equipment and travel to competitions. A grant also helps fund the costs incurred by the team. Team members also reach out to the community in search of mentors who possess knowledge and skills useful in engineering, computer programming, and problem solving. These mentors visit the team and provide useful as well as motivational information.

Once students have designed, built, and programmed their robot, they will attend a scrimmage (practice competition) between other schools in order to assess their robot's abilities. After the scrimmage, Pure Imagination will return home and reconfigure and upgrade their robot as needed to meet the challenges posed during the event.

FIRST is an international organization with state, regional, and national levels of competition. Teams will compete in two state qualifiers located in Oxford, Mississippi; if they qualify, they will progress to regional competition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If teams do well at regionals, they advance to the national competition held in Athens, Georgia.

If you would like more information on the FIRST Tech Challenge or the Pure Imagination team, information is available at www.firstinspires.org or on the team's Facebook page "Grenada Robotics." The team also has a Twitter presence (@Grenadarobotics) as well as an Instagram account.