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The Student News Site of St. Charles North High School


The Student News Site of St. Charles North High School


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FIRST Tech Challenge builds professionalism through robotics competitions

Blue Box Bots
Members of Blue Box Bots.

When many people think of robotics, what first comes to mind is Battle Bots — the TV competition where teams build complex robot fighters and put them in a ring to face off, the last one standing declared the winner. However, competitions for FIRST look a little different.

FIRST is a global non-profit organization that offers team-based robotics programs for kids aged 4-18. Participants can formtheir own teams, or they can join a team created by the organization.

One robotics team part of FIRST Tech Challenge based in Elgin, Blue Box Bots, is a part of the 7-12th grade competition. The team works together to build and code a robot by hand, with many of the parts being 3D printed.

“It’s challenging, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment. We build this huge robot, just ourselves, like seven people,” said Joa Ji, 8th grader at Wredling and member of Blue Box Bots. 

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Ji, who joined Blue Box Bots last season, says the competitions combine collaboration and competitiveness to build skills. 

“FIRST is not just a competition. It’s also about gracious professionalism, which is being kind to your competitors, who might also be your allies next match,” stated Ji. 

The competitions require teams to build bots to do specific tasks. 

“Ours had to launch a paper airplane and hang itself up from a bar,” said Ji. “And it had to place little pixels on a board and stuff like that.”

However, the matches also involve teamwork to a greater extent than just between teammates. 

“You get random matches, and every match you have one team that you work with and two teams that you work against,” said Ji. “The team that you’re working with one match could be the team that you’re against next match, and that’s why we have to help people out as much as we can, because you never know who you could be working with.”

Getting involved is simple- any interested student is welcome, regardless of prior knowledge.

“Joining requires no prior robotics or coding experience,” says Ji. “I went in knowing basically nothing, and now I built one of the main parts of our robot.”

Students who join benefit more than just gaining knowledge on programming and engineering. 

“First of all, it’s really fun. And you get to meet a lot of new people,” said Ji. 

They can also gain service hours by taking part in promotions and events where Blue Box Bots participate.

If students are interested in joining Blue Box Bots or FIRST, they can look on the Blue Box Bots website or the website for FIRST

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Natalie Hannah
Natalie Hannah, Media Editor
Natalie is a graphic designer for the Stargazer. She is a junior, and this is her second year on staff. Natalie engages in student journalism because she enjoys creating art and sharing it with others.

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