Oxnard Union High School District has six schools participate, Adolfo Camarillo, Channel Islands, Hueneme, Oxnard, Pacifica and Rio Mesa.
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.
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 Rookie All-Star Award went to the Metal Jackets, a brand-new team from Oxnard High School. 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.”
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.”
“It was a great time and a great experience,” Peterson said.