Berkeley County STEM 4-H Club FTC Team To Compete In Chesapeake Area For Robotics | Newspaper


MARTINSBURG – The FIRST Berkeley County 4-H STEM Club Tech Challenge Team, PartyTime ^ s (Party Time Carats) was formed in 2018 and has since won several awards, recognitions and will now compete in the Chesapeake area for robotics against teams in DC, Virginia and Maryland.

FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, the program is for high school students who are challenged to design, build and program a robot to play a ground game against the creations of other teams. There’s an FTC group for high school kids and there’s an FLL, First LEGO League team for kids not quite high school age but interested in building and programming.

The team has seven members, made up of programmers and builders, as well as marketing and outreach specialists – four seniors, one junior and two freshmen representing three of the county’s four high, private and home schools. The team also has four mentors, a coach and an administrator.

Emma Engle, who is in her eighth year at FIRST, is a programmer. She said the last time the team competed it was virtual, so she looks forward to the next in-person competitions.

“My favorite thing about programming is seeing everything unfold before the competition and the hardest part is keeping the motivation. Sometimes with programming it can be difficult because you don’t necessarily see the progress right away, whereas with construction you see it immediately, ”Engle said.

Abby Booth, in her sixth year with the FIRST group, is also a programmer and says she loves the program because she loves technology.

“I love seeing my friends here and I love working with technology. My favorite part is that we’re working with a real programming language, but the hardest part is it’s easy to make a lot of mistakes and not realize it, ”Booth said.

Colby Shoffler enjoys working in a team on something he enjoys as a programmer.

“My favorite part of the team is a combination of learning to develop my programming skills in ways that I couldn’t otherwise, and I also enjoy working as a team on programming tasks,” Shoffler, in his fourth year with FIRST, says about the experience.

In her fifth year with FIRST, Sydney Bostic is a programmer and said she enjoys being together and working with her team.

“I like it when all the engineers get together. It’s really fun and I’m learning a lot of new things about programming – I want to be an engineer when I grow up, ”said Bostic.

Quinn Dugger is in his fifth year with FIRST. She is a builder and loves all aspects of the club.

“A lot of us have been here for a long time together, so it’s fun to be able to be together and work on STEM stuff, things that we all enjoy, it’s really fun,” Dugger said.

Another builder, Josh Acevedo is in his fourth year with FIRST and said he values ​​the club’s ability to be hands-on and help build the robot the most.

Gideon Booth is also a builder with the team and has been with FIRST for six years and he said he loves being able to help build the robot.

Alex Bostic, a programming and coding mentor at FTC, said this year the team is using a new technology called Computer Vision, CV, which allows the robot to detect images from images. It allows the computer to understand what it sees from a camera.

“He takes hundreds of photos and from those photos the computer is allowed to learn what it sees from those photos,” Bostic said.

The technology allows the robot to perform certain tricks based on what the computer recognizes.

“Abby got everything set up and started teaching the machine how to learn positions and things like that,” Bostic said.

The team is thrilled to be back in person to build and compete together. Upcoming regional competitions and qualifiers the team will compete in with their robot include in Fairlawn, Va. On Jan.8, one in Alexandria, Va., Jan.15, and one in Harrisonburg, Va., Jan. 29.

Some of the team’s accomplishments include qualifying for and participating in the 2018-21 WV State FTC Championship competitions. In 2019, the team was the best team in West Virginia and among the top four teams overall to make the playoffs.

FTC secured a place in the Mountain Maryland Qualifier final in January 2020, also receiving the Collings Aerospace Innovate Award. In 2021, the team received the Connect Award and placed second in the WV State FTC Championship competition.

In 2019, the FTC team were invited by NASA to represent the FTC at WV at a name change ceremony for the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility. The team and mentors met with NASA administrators, astronauts, senators and the daughters of Katherine Johnson.

The FLL team have qualified and competed in the WV High Score and Robot Board Game awards at six of the last seven regional qualifying events. FLL teams also received Core Values, Project and Robot Design awards. The LEGO Force FLL team won second place in the 2021 WV State FLL Championship competition.

In 2017, the World Robotics Olympiad teams finished in the top 10 and 12th in the country. Teams have won the 2020 Fayette County Race Day, WV State 4-H Day Robotics Competitions since 2014, and Shepherd University RoboFest on multiple occasions since 2015.

Susan Engle, co-leader of the Berkeley County 4-H Club, said she was more than proud of the kids at all the clubs.

Jeff Acevedo, FTC’s construction and engineering mentor, said the team has come such a long way since its inception.

“The first year we did it, the construction team only finished the robot the day before the competition,” Acevedo said of the club’s success since then.

In addition, the club has several officers who help throughout the year. Sabrina Booth, Lydia Dugger and Alex Bostic are programming and coding mentors. Daniel Prestridge was a guest mentor with the construction team. Ashley Acevedo is the web designer and marketing co-mentor and Chuck Engle is the Berkeley County 4-H Club co-leader and administrator of the FTC.

FTC, FLL, and 4-H STEM are free programs that kids who want to be in 4-H and science and technology can participate in.

For more information on clubs, visit the website at


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