Muskegon Area Robotics Team competing in F.I.R.S.T World Championship held in Detroit

Posted: 3:43 PM, Apr 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-24 15:43:52-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — A muskegon robotics team, made up of kids from schools across the county, is competing in the robotics’ World Championship for the first time starting Wednesday in Detroit.

The Muskegon Area Robotics Team (M.A.R.S.) participates in the organization, For Inspiration of Recognition of Science and Technology (F.I.R.S.T.), and qualified for the State Championship in 2017, then made it for their first time to compete in the World Championship this year. Overall the team competes against more than 4,000 student teams worldwide, and 400 teams will compete at Cobo Center in Detroit, while another 400 compete in Houston for a four-day World Championship.

“It’s really incredible,” said Logan Page, a North Muskegon High School junior, and Muskegon Community College freshman.

“M.A.R.S. is a great team because it’s not just North Muskegon, it’s not just Reeths-Puffer: but it’s North Muskegon, Reeths-Puffer, Orchard View, Oakridge, homeschoolers—students from across Muskegon County, any school that isn’t large enough to have their own robotics team.”

This year, the theme is retro video games. M.A.R.S. had six weeks to build a robot from scratch and then program it to lift and balance blocks in a race against teams. Their team is comprised of 16 students across Muskegon county schools and homeschooling.

“It’s really incredible because F.I.R.S.T. doesn’t just let me build a cool robot, but it also allows me to learn things that I would not learn from school normally,” Page said. “I would never have a chance to learn how to do computer aide design.”

M.A.R.S. is a private non-profit, and their team founder says they’re still fundraising for their World Championship expenses and to fund the team next year. The entry fee for the World Championship is $5,000. If you want to help them, you can find their information on Facebook or GoFundMe .

“We offer this program and programs at all levels, to middle school to high school and elementary school, we offer that to students who don’t have that at their schools,” said Mike Gerstweiler, founder of M.A.R.S. Robotics team.

“It’s nice because you can see how these kids all interact with each other, even though they’ve never seen each other before, they’ve never met before, and they become best friends from all these different schools.”

More than 500 Michigan teams compete in F.I.R.S.T., and at least 90 are competing in the World Championship, Page said.