Students from New York City and beyond gathered in St. Louis on Wednesday for a varsity sport of the mind, the FIRST Robotics championship. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
Wednesday was the FIRST day of the FIRST Robotics championship at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis and and students were working down to the wire.
Earlier this year, student teams from across the country and overseas had six weeks to transform a box of spare parts into a lean, mean basketball-shooting shooting machine, and now it was time to show them off.
In its 21 years, the FIRST competition has grown leaps and bounds, from 23 teams in its inaugural year to 402 this year, the biggest turnout to date.
Still, its founder, Dean Kamen, the man behind hundreds of patents, said more young minds need to have the opportunity to get involved.
"When you compare the scale of what we have to the scale of the need for this country to develop a generation of world-class innovators, we're not growing fast enough," said Kamen.
FIRST's impact is evident. Many of the students who spoke with NY1 inside the NASCAR-like pits said their involvement has sparked an interest in a possible career in science technology engineering and math.
The arena also has a "scholarship row," where in between rounds of competition, students can visit more than 40 booths for a chance to score a slice of nearly $15 million in scholarship money, to get a better shot at a promising future.
NY1's parent company, Time Warner Cable, is a significant sponsor of FIRST robotics. For more information on the ongoing initiative to highlight programs engaging students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), visit www.connectamillionminds.com.