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| 2 min read | by Sun Times News staff|

Back row standing: Chase Weaver – 7th grade, Ateesh Lath – 7th grade, Sameer Kheterpal – 6th grade, Aidan Mazak – 8th grade, Emma Zamansky – 8th grade and Derek Brewer – 8th grade. Front row sitting: Victoria Zhang – 8th grade, James Stross – 7th grade and Simran Kheterpal – 8th grade.

The Emerson Eagles Robotics Team is back and ready to take flight in this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competitions.

Emma Zamansky, a Dexter resident, and middle school student at Emerson School reached out to The Sun Times News to get the word out and promote something that is near and dear to her.

“I’m proud to tell you that our robotics team will be competing at the FIRST Tech Challenge competition at Bedford High School in Temperance, Mich. on Saturday, November 9,” she said by email. 

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 According to the news release, the Eagles, a team of nine middle school students from Emerson School in Ann Arbor, competes with hundreds of other Michigan middle schools in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics program.

Emerson School is an independent kindergarten through eighth-grade school for gifted and for academically talented students. It was established in 1973 and now educates more than 300 students each year from cities/towns throughout Southeast Michigan.

It’s located at 5425 Scio Church Road.

Last season, the Eagles were honored with several awards and competed in the Michigan State Championship.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

Based in Manchester, NH, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

“This year, the team’s goals are to increase the sophistication and capabilities of its robot (for example, by using all-direction Mecanum wheels), and to expand the team’s community service and outreach,” the Emerson School news release said.

The Eagles are currently mentoring four other FIRST robotics teams: a “rookie” team that is starting its first year in FTC robotics, as well as three FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics teams composed of 3rd – 5th grade students in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

They are also working hard to make their community a better place, according to the news release.

The team has adopted a 2-mile stretch of road in front of their school, where they will be cleaning the roadsides three times a year; and, they have also recently completed a drive that raised many donations for the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

In their outreach, the news release said the “team has continued their focus on sustainability—actively looking at how robotics can help companies, institutions and society to be more sustainable.”

Some examples of this focus include the team’s work with the University of Michigan Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Program. Through this partnership they learned about how robots are being used to detect and locate marine pollution; clean up trash from our oceans, lakes and rivers; track the health of our marine ecosystems (for example, mapping where coral reefs are healthy and where they are dying); and eliminate harmful invasive species such as the lionfish.

The news release also said other sustainability opportunities were raised by the Eagles’ roadside cleanup initiative.

“With a large amount of roadside trash being made up of food packaging waste, students wanted to learn more about how robots can help clean this up,” the news release said. “They did some research and learned about a robotic design concept called the Scarab. It is designed to clean streets and shopping malls, pick up the litter, and put it into the proper disposals.”

The team’s first competition of the season will be Saturday, Nov. 9, at Bedford High School in Temperance. The Eagles invite any interested families to come cheer on all the teams at the Bedford Qualifier.

“I’m sharing the news release below with you in hopes that you can share it with your audience so that families in our community can learn more about robotics, and maybe even come to the competition to see what it’s all about,” Zamansky said.

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