Powell Middle School Students Invited to California Robotic Competition | Big Horn Basin Media

Powell Middle School Students Invited to California Robotic Competition

Written by on May 3, 2023

Five Powell students are taking their talents to southern California for the Western Edge FIRST LEGO League Open. They’ll be competing against teams from across the world in a unique robotics competition – open by invitation only.

FIRST promotes itself as the world’s leading youth-serving non-profit advancing STEM education. Their mission is to “engage young people in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

The FIRST LEGO League Open is designed for K-8 students but is not open to anyone. 80 Teams from across the nation are invited to participate – 70 by their Program Delivery Partner and ten from California.

Leon Miller, the “robotics sponsor” and 6-12 science teacher for Park County School District No. 1, says this is a significant accomplishment for the students and the school – especially within the team’s first year of existence.

“We went to the state competition and scored really good,” Miller says. “There are 44 teams that go to our state competition. We came in second overall and came first in robot performance.”

The first-place team declined to attend the international competition – Powell’s team was next on the list.

Five students were selected after a competition between the students on the robotics team. It’ll be a 20-hour drive in a Suburban to get the competitors to Long Beach, California.

According to FIRST’s website, LEGO League competitions “gain real-world problem-solving experiences through a guided, global robotics program, helping today’s students and teachers build a better future together. FIRST LEGO League’s three divisions inspire youth to experiment and grow their critical thinking, coding, and design skills through hands-on STEM learning and robotics.”

During the FIRST LEGO League Open, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors while operating under strict rules with limited time and resources.

For Miller, the competition is as much about cultural exposure as robotics- seeing and meeting their peers from across the nation and worldwide. However, it’s also about showing students they don’t necessarily have to leave home to find fulfilling careers in robotics and technology.

“We need to get our kids out into the world to see there are a million different options out there (and) they don’t have to move there, or go there, or live there. We have tons of things here. We have the jobs here. I want kids to see that these jobs are unique.”

Miller mentions several companies in Park County working with robotics in many capacities. Those jobs and careers are within reach as long as they keep pursuing their passions.

“Greatness is what they make it,” Miller says. “They’re not limited by what they’re told they can do or where they’re placed. They can do anything they can set their mind to. As long as they can dream it, they can do it.”

Western Edge FIRST LEGO League Open will be underway at the Long Beach Convention Center from May 12-14. 



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