STEM skills on display at the FIRST Robotics Competition

NAMPA, Idaho — The whirring and whining of power tools fill Ford Idaho Center this weekend as high school students from across the region compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

For the 28 teams, this weekend’s competition will determine whether they will participate in the Robotics World Championship in May.

The event tests students’ abilities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). FIRST regional director Lisa Lalliss-Skogsberg said the teams also encourage students to develop communication skills by reaching out to local partners and adult mentors for grant opportunities.

Related: Discovery Center of Idaho Offers Virtual STEM Classes

On Friday, the students’ huge robots – most weighing an average of around 125 pounds – took part in challenges such as shooting oversized tennis balls into targets and climbing monkey bars.

Of the 28 teams, 18 are from Idaho. The Taters team, made up of several high school students from Treasure Valley, has been to Worlds 12 times over the past 14 years.

Capital High School senior Grace Reeder helped design and build Team Taters’ robot, the Transporter.

“It’s a group of people with common interests who come together and are interested in weird robots,” Reeder said. “It’s super fun to see something you’ve worked so hard on for months come together and actually happen.”

the competetion continues on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. approximately. The event is free and open to the public.

Related: Robots take over school as Idaho students compete in state championship