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Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor


Robotics Challenge

Robotics teams from around the state gathered at the Grenada National Guard Armory recently to face off in a robotic scrimmage. The event, North Mississippi Build Day, was hosted by Grenada School District's FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team, Pure Imagination. The practice competition allowed teams the opportunity to practice with their robots, which are designed, built, and programmed completely by students. The event also encourages collaboration with other teams in hopes of creating robots that will meet the challenges of real competitions in the future.

The teams, whom are all sponsored by FIRST (For Inspiration, and Recognition of Science and Technology), are gearing up to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge. These events are designed to test the teamwork, engineering, and problem solving skills of each team. 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.

Approximately five teams, consisting of 7th -12th graders from clubs, schools, and communities, attended North Mississippi Build Day, including the World Champions from the 2016/2017 season, Wait For It, from Rankin County, Mississippi. The Grenada team, Pure Imagination, includes ten members: Shelby Boyett, Lance Easley, Amelia Ferguson, Presley Hale, Shyann Lloyd, Avery McMechan, Jadyn McMechan, Carrie Moorman, Mason Pettit, and Marlie Sturgis. Pure Imagination's team is completed by their robot, "Charlie" and their mentor, Ryan Melton, an instructor at Grenada Middle School. Other participating teams were Twisted Circuits from Water Valley High School, Houlka Robo Wildcats from Houlka Attendance Center, and BigWelds Bots from Girl Scouts Heart of the South. While each team has a unique approach to building their robot, they must all follow certain guidelines. One of the most remarkable aspects of the program is that teams are able to share their unique experience and innovative ideas with the other teams. Not only do teams collaborate during the building and practice phases, they also must form alliances with other teams during actual competition to defeat other alliances. This aspect fosters teamwork not only within each team, but also teaches students to work with other students that they have just met – a great life skill that will serve them well in the workforce.

Not all of the Pure Imagination team members attended North Mississippi Build Day. Part of the team manned an exhibit at the Grenada Afterglow Film Festival on the same day. These members used the Vex robots from the Project Lead The Way Robotics and Automation class to demonstrate robotics to festival attendees. Those visiting Pure Imagination's display observed robotic demonstrations and could even take a robot for a test drive! This part of the team also promoted Gracious Professionalism through outreach to the community. Gracious Professionalism is part of the philosophy of FIRST. According to FIRST, these beliefs encourage high-quality work, emphasize the value of others, and respect individuals and the community. With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers - no chest-thumping tough talk or sticky-sweet platitudes. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life; one that adds to society while enjoying the satisfaction of knowing that you have acted with integrity and sensitivity.

Grenada School District wishes Pure Imagination good luck in the upcoming competition season. 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 as well as an Instagram account under the handle "Grenada Robotics."