HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Middle and high school students from across Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. convened on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Atlee High School in Mechanicsville to build robots for the First Tech Challenge Qualifier 1 robotics sports competition as part of a nationwide program celebrating STEM education in schools.

Hosted by the independent nonprofit First Chesapeake, the robotics competition featured more than 240 teams of students, who came together to assemble robots for a competition that highlights science and technology in public school learning while testing students’ abilities to strategize and work together as a team.

“Every year these students get together and they build their robot from scratch from parts they market; they project plan, they do all the things a start-up entrepreneur would do for their business. So, every one of these kids go pro [at the event],” said Scott Turnbull, executive director of First Chesapeake.

Students go through several rounds of competition to qualify for the ultimate robotics challenge, which will take place on Feb. 11, 2023.

Marlecia Williams, a high school senior in Lancaster County, Virginia, spoke to 8News about the educational benefits of robotics competitions.

“I feel as though being in robotics is a very good learning experience for people…even if you’re not necessarily interested in robotics, you can still learn something, and you can get new information from it,” she said.

As far as Williams’ methods for success, she noted the importance of balancing perseverance with efficiency.

“As far as going into our bot and building, it just takes a lot of trial and error. You got to work and see what you can do with what you have, versus working with what you don’t have,” she said. “Instead of focusing on the things you can’t do, focus on the things you can do.”

Check out some photos from Saturday’s robotics competition below.

Students from across Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. participated in a robotics competition hosted by First Chesapeake at Atlee High School on Dec. 3. Photo: Amir Massenburg / 8News.
Photo: Amir Massenburg / 8News.
Photo: Amir Massenburg / 8News.