Forsythe Middle School hosts first ever First Tech Challenge Qualifier in AAPS

36 teams from southeastern Michigan participated in the robotics competition

Forsythe Middle School, Nov. 11, 2023

Forsythe Middle School opened its doors to 36 South East Michigan First Tech Challenge Teams this past weekend! FIRST is a global robotics community preparing young people for the future and the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education. Ann Arbor Public Schools was honored to open its doors to host their first-ever First Tech Challenge Qualifier. Plans are already underway to make this event even better for the upcoming 2024 Season. 

Ann Arbor Public Schools had 11 teams competing this past weekend from six middle schools. This year, with a generous grant from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium and the support of Ann Arbor Public Schools, the district hosted a First Tech Teacher Training and Robotics Summer Camp: Our Place in Space which spurred five new Rookie Teams in the district and involved students in robotics who usually would not have the opportunity.

“Our 11 teams did tremendously and brought their gracious professionalism to the event,” said Cynthia Heraud, PLTW Teacher and Head Robotics Coach for Forsythe Middle School.

AAPS teams placed:

#7 -Clague Gear Cats #7305 (Clague)

#8 -Clague Gear Cats #23606 (Clague)

#14  -Thor #17039 (Forsythe)

#15 -Trojan TechBots #23858 (Tappan)

#20 – Loki #19382 (Forsythe)

#21 -Valkyries #15301(Forsythe)

#22 -Storm #19383 (Forsythe)

#25 -Vikings #10721(Forsythe)

#27 -Roadrunner Bots #23608

#33 -A2 Open Pandas #23607

#35 -Slauson Golden Bears #23609 (Slauson)

A2 Open Mack received the Judges Choice Award. The Judges Choice Award recognizes teams for their outstanding efforts!

“Gracious Professionalism and Competition” was the motto of the First Tech Challenge.

Scarlett Middle School PLTW teacher Leslie Baugh was impressed by something that happened after about an hour of working on the bot. As she explains it: “One of the members of the Clague Gear Cats approached the team asking what they could do to help. The team quickly explained the problem, but expressed they were confident it could be fixed in time. Time was not on our side at that moment. Teammates were losing confidence quickly. One hour turned into 2 1/2. And just when they were about to throw in the wrench, pliers, and motors- the Gearcats came with a spare bot! 

“Yep. Cross-town rivals the Clague Cougars Robotics Team insisted we use their bot and even went so far as to run through the pre-set program with our team. The unbridled enthusiasm and gratitude could be heard throughout the halls of Forsythe Middle School! When all hope had seemed lost, we were now back into the competition. Running to get the bot inspected, get our drivers certified, and get to the practice pit all in a matter of minutes before the Roadrunner Bots were scheduled to compete… Heartbeats racing, questions flying about from each teammate, a four-person team was composed and seconds after pulling the battery off the charger- the Roadrunner Bots took center stage on Mat 1 as the red alliance.” 

“Despite loading and landing a pixel on the board, the first round resulted in a loss. Coming back strong, the second round was a win not by score, but because the team managed to get two pixels on the board! By round 3 they were succeeding and winning. Round four was a tie, and in Round 5 not only did they get two pixels on the board, they were able to ‘park’ their bot- a big scoring accomplishment.” 

Baugh said that during judging, one of the judges asked the team, “What is your favorite part about your robot or being in the robotics club in general?” She said one student responded: “Friends. See before being in Robotics Club I really didn’t have any friends and now I have friends. That’s my favorite part of Robotics Club.”

“Wiping heartfelt tears away, as their coach I couldn’t have wished for anything more than that moment right then,” Baugh said.

Cynthia Heraud and Tom Pachera at the district’s first First Tech Challenge Qualifier
#7 -Clague Gear Cats

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