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Math Plus Robotics Add Up to a Prime National Math Festival

Hail Hydraulics team members at National Math FestivalFIRST had a strong presence at the National Math Festival in Washington, DC, thanks to the work of FIRST Chesapeake and two local FIRST teams: FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1629 “GaCo” from Garrett County, Maryland, and FIRST Tech Challenge Team 7217 “Hail Hydraulics” from Bristol, Virginia. The two teams demonstrated at the hands-on event, which brings children and adults of all ages together to celebrate the fun, beauty, power, and importance of math in our daily lives. The 2017 festival combined lectures, demos, performances, puzzles, games, mathletic events, art-making, films, and much more at DC’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center on April 22.

National Math Festival attendees drive a FIRST robotTwelfth grade students Walker Little and William Barrett, both of “Hail Hydraulics,” presented at the National Math Festival during a session entitled "Math and the Holonomic Drive: The Pursuit of a Smooth Ride". Hail Hydraulics employed mathematics to create a holonomic drive on their FIRST Tech Challenge robot. A holonomic drive system allows a vehicle to travel in any direction without changing its orientation. The team has won the Motivate Award, the PTC Design Award, and the Control Award over the past few years in regional robotics competitions. Together, William and Walker make a great think tank on the application of mathematics in the development of a functioning robot.

FIRST students demonstrate to National Math Festival attendeesAt the National Math Festival, GaCo emphasized how they are driven to help all students in and around their community of Garrett County achieve that “ah ha” moment in learning STEM. In addition to demonstrating their FIRST Robotics Competition robot, they highlighted their “STEM Waypoints” initiative, in which the team works with elementary school students to create “reference points” on their journey to become STEM ready. For example, their LEGO Top Spinners build on students’ understanding of multiplication, and their Golden Ratio Calipers introduce students to ratios. Also in April, GaCo was one of two Chairman's Award winners that represented FIRST Chesapeake at FIRST Championship St. Louis.

FIRST thanks FIRST Chesapeake Director Denise Lewis and the students from Gaco and Hail Hydraulics for making it loud at the National Math Festival, which has previously attracted more than 20,000 attendees. The National Math Festival is organized by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath).

Back to May 2017 Newsletter