Two local teams to participate in robotics competition at Auburn Middle School

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The Red Beard Pandas from Blacksburg will take part in a robotics competition Saturday.

More than 400 of Virginia’s best and brightest middle-and high-school students, including two local teams will meet at Auburn Middle School Saturday to test their teamwork and ingenuity at the FIRST Tech Christiansburg Virginia Qualifier Event. The event will begin at 7 a.m. and last until 5 p.m. It is free and is open to the public.

The two local teams taking part are Team 4924, the Red Beard Pandas from Blacksburg, and Team 17465, the Wailing Wendigos from Auburn Middle School.

The students will be striving to qualify for a spot in the Virginia state robotics championship on Feb. 22. This year’s challenge is named Skystone. On a playing field, teams will strategize, form alliances and demonstrate grace and professionalism while moving “stones” and assembling them into alliance-specific foundations. Team robots are required to work autonomously and with drivers to score points.

Families and the general public are invited to come out, cheer on their favorite team and learn more about For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) programs.

FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire an appreciation for science and technology in young people. FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering.

Each year in Virginia, more than 7,000 middle- and high-school students take part in FIRST-sponsored workshops and competitions from November through April.