On March 29 from April 1, Oswego Robotics’ Gear It Forward 2338 made it onto 1st placing alliance and won the 7 Rivers Regional competition in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Following their success, the team moved onto the FIRST World Championship in Houston where their alliance ranked third.
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, was founded by engineering visionary Dean Kamen in order to inspire young people to enter the STEM field through mentor-based programs and competitions. The 7 Rivers Regional Coalition, which hosted the titular competition, is composed of schools who are part of the larger FIRST organization.
Students participating in a FIRST competition are challenged to design, build, and program a robot that can play a field game chosen by the event organizers. Each team participates in three regional competitions during the season in order to qualify for the World Championship where teams from all over the world come together to put their engineering skills to the test.
“The World Championships are always a different battle than each regional is,” Team Captain Aaron Fowler, a senior at Oswego High School, said. “That being said, through qualification matches, our team had our best ever result. With a record of 9-1, we qualified in 3rd place out of the 74 teams in our division.”
Due to an electrical issue with their robot, 2338 ultimately lost the World Championship. However, placing 3rd in such a competition is no easy feat. “Even though we did not win, we made it far in the competition and it was an amazing experience,” Outreach Captain Hannah Roark, a sophomore at Oswego East, said.
2338 also won the Engineering Inspiration award, which is awarded to teams that promote FIRST and STEM in their local communities and who inspire younger generations through STEM, at the 7 Rivers Regional. This award qualifies the team to move onto the FIRST World Championship.
Alongside competitions, 2338 mentors elementary and middle school students. “Our team strives to interact with the younger generation of our district,” Roark said. “We have presented to middle schools and elementary schools in our district and showed these students what our team is all about.”
In order to reach younger students, Oswego Robotics started the FIRST Lego League in 2019. Participants from grades 6 through 8 come together from each middle school in the district to learn about STEM and robotics through hands-on activities with Legos.
2338 also modifies toys so that people with disabilities can use them. “For our Adaptive toys, take toys with inaccessible and hard-to-press buttons and solder easy-press buttons onto them,” Roark said. “This allows students with limited mobility to play with toys that are normally hard to use.”
Gear It Forward 2338 is a team of young and multi-faceted engineers. “2338 is so much more than just robots. Our members learn lessons and skills that will help us throughout our life,” Roark said. “We have formed connections with each other, teams, and our community that will stay with us forever.”