Granite City Gearheads Heading to World FIRST Championship
ST. CLOUD -- The Granite City Gearheads, a local robotics team, is heading to Detroit, Michigan to compete against almost 400 other teams in the world championship.
They're a FIRST robotics team, which stands for; For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a non-profit that tries to get kids into STEM fields.
To get to the world championship in Detroit, they beat out several other teams in the recent regional competition. They're an 8th seed, which means they became "Alliance Captains", and chose two other teams to bring with them to the championship.
Corey Applegate is the team's coach, he says the teams only competed for a short time, but it's very exciting.
"[The competition] is back and forth and a lot like a teeter-totter. You don't really know who's going to when because of power-ups and who can climb and who can't climb. It's a very exciting two and a half minutes."
He adds the crowd gets into these competitions in a big way.
"It's not unlike a baseball game or football game. The crowd gets really into it, and it's very intense."
In a twist from other sports, Applegate says there's a lot of collaboration between teams in the FIRST robotics realm.
"We will meet with other teams and collaborate with them, saying, we're struggling with this particular element, kind of at a brain loss, and they'll come in and help with that part, and vice-versa."
The competitions this year are themed around old 8-bit arcade games. Teams had to collect "power-up" cubes and stack them on scales and switches to score points. The points were based on time, the longer a cube stayed, the more points the team earned.
Applegate says since it's not an officially sanctioned school team, they have to do a lot of fundraising on their own through the community. The world championships are Wednesday through Saturday. Some 30,000 kids from over 62 countries will compete.