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FIRST celebrated middle and high school students from around the world who have received the highest honors during its most recent FIRST season at the 2017 FIRST Class Festival of Champions in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, July 29.
The Festival included a robotics event at SNHU Arena in Manchester, the same city where FIRST held its first-ever official Sport for the Mind™ event in a high school gymnasium 25 years ago. Winning alliances of robotics teams from the FIRST® Robotics Competition and FIRST® Tech Challenge Championship events in Houston and St. Louis competed in the last official games of the 2016-17 season. The matches were streamed live on Twitch.tv and are available to replay on the FIRST Twitch channel (https://www.twitch.tv/firstinspires).
Scoring a world-record-high 588 points in the fifth and final match, the Blue Alliance – Team 2767, Stryke Force, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Team 254, The Cheesy Poofs, San Jose, Calif.; Team 862, Lightning Robotics, Canton, Mich.; Team 1676, The Pascack PI-oneers, Montvale, N.J. – won the Festival trophy for FIRST Robotics Competition.
On the FIRST Tech Challenge playing field, the Red Alliance – Team 724, RedNek Robotics Wun, Sun River, Mont.; Team 4216, Rise of Hephaestus, San Diego, Calif.; and Team 8651, Wait for It…, Pearl, Miss. – took home the Festival prize after four exciting matches.
The FIRST Festival of Champions event at SNHU Arena was part of three days of celebrations of the 2017 FIRST Class of Champions. “What we’re doing is way more important than a competition,” FIRST Founder Dean Kamen said at the event. “Most of the robots don’t win, but all of the students do.” Kamen also encouraged the students to return home and get the rest of their communities involved in FIRST: “The world needs a generation of world-class problem-solvers and leaders.”
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu also spoke at the Festival. Maj. Gen. Harencak presented Dean Kamen with the American Spirit Award, the highest honor the U.S. Air Force gives to a civilian. Gov. Sununu announced that New Hampshire is committed to helping every school in the state that wants to start a FIRST team.
“STEM learning is more important than ever as we look ahead to the future economy, but kids also need exposure to teamwork, problem-solving, and diversity to really thrive,” said Don Bossi, president of FIRST. “Robotics competitions like FIRST are a great way to give them these experiences at any age, and in a way that’s just a lot of fun.”