On April 7th and 8th, 2011, “Mr. S”, a KRA Portsmouth Youth Employability and Success (YES) program participant from Lake Taylor High School, engaged in the Virginia Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition held at Virginia Commonwealth University. The FIRST program gets high school students, 14-18, involved in projects that focus on engineering, science, and technology to increase their knowledge and skills and to encourage them to consider careers in these fields. FIRST students interact in challenging and exciting mentor-based projects that foster self-confidence, communication, and leadership skills. The April Competition was an engineering challenge; students worked in teams with teachers, volunteers, and mentors, to design, build, program, and test a robot…in only 6 weeks…to participate in the Competition, which draws teams from all over the world. Winners of Regional Competitions go on to international tournaments in other countries. Taking the 36th place out of 200 teams, Mr. S and his teammates did extremely well. And, even though the team did not win the Virginia Regional, the students thoroughly enjoyed competing against teams from around the country and around the world, including Australia, China, and Great Britain. When Mr. S joined the YES program in 2008, he was quite an accomplished athlete and sports enthusiast. It was the KRA program, however, that guided him in the direction of other interests and opportunities, fostered the development of his critical thinking and leadership skills, and propelled him to think about the world of engineering, science, and technology. Mr. S says he found the experience one to remember for a lifetime.
On April 18, 2011, we reported that “Mr. O”, another high school student and Portsmouth YES participant, is participating in an intense project that is preparing him and seven classmates in the area of underwater robotics for the 2011 MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) Competition at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, June 16 – 18, 2011.