Students battle it out at first robotics ventura regional competition west la college financial aid office hours

The stands were filled with people wearing team colors. As teams came out, the crowd erupted in cheers and waved signs, some even chanted. Students waited in the wings to take their place as they strategized and huddled together.

Students from 42 local, national and international teams competed for three days at ventura college for the FIRST robotics ventura regional competition.

"Building a robot is an incredible experience. It’s six weeks of crazy, fast labor, 30-hour weekends but also a lot of fun," said james vreeland, a junior on the ventura 3925 circuit of life team.

FIRST stands for for inspiration and recognition of science and technology and is an international organization that motivates students to participate in hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities.They learned

Students work with professionals and advisers — known as mentors — that specialize in their fields to inspire innovation. This organization also works to foster well-rounded life skills, such as communication, leadership and self-confidence.

This year there were teams from china, switzerland and turkey joining local and regional teams, including six new teams from the oxnard union high school district and returning teams from fillmore, santa paula and conejo valley unified schools.

The teams create a robot to compete in a game where the robot has to do certain challenges and scores points based on the completion of those tasks. This year, the robots were in part tasked with picking up cubes and putting them on a scale. The theme this year was "power up" — paying homage to older video games like PAC-MAN or super mario bros.They learned

Students battled it out robot-to-robot on the floor of the main gym at ventura college. While other teammates sat in the stands and cheered, others waited in an adjacent room and acted as a pit crew for the robot.

The regional chairman’s award went to the coconuts — a team from coconino high school in flagstaff, arizona. That’s a championship qualifying award, meaning the team will go on to compete in houston at the world championships competition. The regional engineering inspiration award went to new roads school in santa monica.

Individual students also may get awards. The FIRST dean’s list award finalists are prestigious awards within the competition and went to anupam batra and gioia melian from west hills.

The rookie all-star award went to the metal jackets, a brand-new team from oxnard high school.Community service this win takes the oxnard team to houston, as well. Their robot, named sparky, will compete with other world champion robots.

"We’re super excited, it is our first year so we really didn’t have much context going into the competition," said oxnard high school principal richard urias. " … It turned out our kids and coach did a pretty darn good job."

Urias said the interest in robotics and mechanics has grown so much this year that they plan to implement a new career pathway for students with those interests. Their team consisted of about 20 active participants in an after-school club, but by next winter, their adviser hopes to have an after-school class for credit for those participating.

"The kids loved it. They had a great time, they learned a lot," said nick peterson, the team’s teacher adviser. "Some of the kids made statements that they learned more in these six weeks than they learned in all of high school because it’s just so applied."

High school

Peterson said to prepare for the competition in houston the team is working on coding and making some modifications to the robot to help it do better and "be even more competitive."

We would like to thank everyone who supported us through this journey. We can’t do it without them. Can’t wait to go to world championships!— OHS robotics (@oxnardrobotics) april 1, 2018

As robots were wheeled from one space to another, students yelled "robot!" so that others nearby knew to get out of the way for the stars of the show. When a robot returned from the floor, the entire crew got to work making repairs and tweaks to improve for the next round.

"I’m a part of the robotics team not so much just because of what we do with robots and engineering, that’s a great part of it but the main reason is really the community and the strength that we have as a group," said jonathan van hyning, a junior on the circuit of life team. "(it’s) just being together."

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“I think the number one thing is community," bacon said. "Regardless of doing robotics, regardless of working on the robot, we have community service. … It’s just so much fun.”

Bacon is referring to the community service aspect of FIRST robotics. Each team is responsible for completing a certain number of hours of community service each year.

The ventura team, and bringing the event to ventura county, was spearheaded several years ago by ventura unified school board trustee velma lomax.

“I saw the value of this,” lomax said of starting things in ventura. "Kids needed this, they wanted this. … The really cool thing is that it works for kids."

Lomax said they learn skills in robotics, engineering, coding and manufacturing as well as the importance of teamwork and community.They learned she also said it wouldn’t be possible for the students to compete like this without the help of sponsors like the gene haas foundation, which not only sponsors the regional competition but gives scholarships to individual teams that apply for grants.