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Rookie Bialik Team Impress in National Robotics Competition

STEAM, Middle School

On the weekend of 2-4 December, seven students from Years 8-11 were accompanied by Middle School Science teacher and Robotics Club coach Alon Manker to the FIRST Tech Challenge National robotics competition at Macquarie University in Sydney. Founded in the USA in 1989 but now an international sensation involving over 400,000 young people worldwide each year, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a non-for-profit organization running robotics competitions that aim to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting programs that build STEM skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication and leadership.
Having competed at the FIRST LEGO League previously, Bialik College was approached late last year by ex-collegian Stephen Bornstein representing BAE Systems with an offer to sponsor our participation at the next level of competition, the FIRST Tech Challenge. A year of skill-building and perseverant problem-solving and three robot designs later, our robot “a.R.i.” was ready for participation at the FTC Nationals in Sydney’s Macquarie University.
As a rookie team and the only team representing Victoria, our group of “Omnipotent Omniwheels” impressed not only with their unique robot design and programming, but also with the dedication and comradery they displayed towards other competing teams and the event as a whole, exemplifying the FIRST values of Coopertition and Gracious Professionalism. They worked tirelessly right up until Friday evening refining their robot, graciously accepted Sydney-based team Tech-NO-Logic’s offer to operate their robot for them on the Sabbath, and competed passionately on the Sunday, coming in at 11th spot overall out of 32 competing teams.
Returning to Melbourne exhausted but exhilarated, the team were very pleased with their performance and the experience as a whole.  “It was great to compete with and meet all the other teams, “ said Year 9 student Asaf Gurfinkel, “but this was also a huge learning opportunity for us: we picked up lots of tips and ideas for how to do even better next year!”