Oxford Area High School hosts state robotics championship
● By Richard Gaw
Before a capacity crowd at the Oxford Area High School, students and coaches from 50 teams in six states competed at the Pennsylvania State Robotics FIRST Tech Challenge last weekend, blanketing the school’s gymnasium floor with a colorful mixture of technology and teamwork.
The FIRST Tech Challenge program, an international competition for seventh through 12th graders, is a New Hampshire-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Now in its 30th year, the organization has become known for its “Sport for the Mind,” a competitive arena where students get to design their own specialized robots and enter them into competition.
The Ohmboys and O Zone teams from Oxford Area High School – as well as the Flaming Phoenix from Unionville High School -- advanced to the March 2-3 state championship at Oxford Area High School after performing well at regional competitions, joining teams from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Virginia. This year, the state competition was divided among the Allegheny and Poconos divisions, and of those teams, seven qualified to advance to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship that will be held April 14 to 27 in Detroit, Mich.
“Oxford Robotics bridges the divide between what we’re doing in the school district with our STEM initiatives over the last three years,” said David Woods, superintendent of the Oxford Area School District. “We’ve placed classes in our third and fourth grades, then our fifth and sixth grades and then our seventh and eighth grades. We now have engineering classes at the high school, along with an increased emphasis on AP, computer science and curricular courses.”
Brian Hildebrandt, a computer engineer, said he and his wife were looking for a program that would appeal to their son as he was being educated in the Oxford Area School District. The Hildebrandts discovered Oxford Robotics, and he now runs the program, which includes 100 students from the district.
“The importance of the FIRST Tech Challenge is getting our kids excited about what STEM is about, whether they’re interested in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, microelectronics or programming,” Hildebrandt said. “We need more problem solvers in our world – to bring more of our youth into the mode of thinking, ‘How do I solve problems?’ We give young people the opportunity to solve problems, and find ways to help improve our lives.”
To learn more about Oxford Robotics, visit www.oxfordrobotics.org.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.