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Robots to Take Over R-L Center This Weekend

Cooperation and competition will be on full display in the Rollins-Luetkemeyer Athletic Center this weekend Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24 as 34 teams from the Chesapeake District (Maryland, DC, and Virginia) gather to play Crescendo—the 2024 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) game.

Crescendo, a perfect harmony of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines and the arts, is a thrill to watch (see competition excitement here). During this weekend’s event, teams of robots and programmers that have been competing regionally for the past few weeks, hope to hit the right notes and earn the opportunity to move on to championship rounds of play. Learn how Crescendo is played here.

The season for Team 4505: McDonogh Robotics began in January when they, along with 3,500 teams from around the world, received the kits to build and program their robots to shoot circular objects (called notes) into amps and speakers stationed on the arena floor. The competition encourages “coopertition” (competition and cooperation) between the teams to harmonize their notes.

Eric Conn, who coaches McDonogh’s FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) team of 36 upper schoolers, explains that since January, the students worked in different specialty areas (design, software, mechanical, electrical, and safety), under the direction of their peers, to build, test, and improve their robot in time for two March competitions. He points to the team culture as the key to its success. “Our kids work together fabulously,” Conn says.

Opportunities to become involved in robotics at McDonogh begin Lower School with FIRST Lego League (FLL). At this level, in addition to building robots, students also build confidence and teamwork skills as they engage in tournament competitions. Middle and Upper School students, the FIRST Technology Challenge (FTC) team, work from September through January. According to Coach Jason Rapalski, the team performed well in competition and had several McDonogh “firsts.” He says this was the first season they created a 3D-printed part for their robot, the first time they got it to climb and hang, and the first time they programmed it to launch a paper airplane.

Students, parents, and robotics enthusiasts are welcome to experience the excitement of the FIRST Robotics Competition Event at McDonogh! The district competition is free and open to the public. Opening ceremonies begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, and 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 24 with gameplay to follow. Playoffs begin at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, with awards interspersed throughout finals matches. Concessions will be available.