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UTPB STEM Academy students prepare for FIRST Tech Challenge

Students at the academy seem to be more than ready to compete.

ODESSA, Texas — On Friday, students at the UTPB STEM Academy were preparing for the FIRST Tech Challenge League Championship happening Saturday.

The STEM academy has 5 teams going to the competition.

“We have 7th graders through 12th graders on our teams," said Jeff Vann, robotics and programming teacher at the STEM Academy.  "And some of the teams are made up of all 7th graders. We have an 8th grade team, we have a 9th grade team and then we have two teams, our veteran teams, that are kind of made up of a mix of kids of several different ages in them.”

One of the teams is in 1st place, and several of the others are highly ranked.

But for these students, this is much more than just building robots.

"So not only does FIRST give you a ton of skills, like real life skills of not just engineering and programing and math and science, but also doing things like this," said Allison Barnes, team captain of the Cantina Crew. "Talking to people, presenting about your skills, explaining what you're doing, developing a portfolio."

Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation and working together as a team.

“It’s been so great," said Jayden Harkey, backup team captain and human player for Venom Robotics. "Especially being with some of my best friends that introduced me into this school. It’s just been a really awesome experience. Especially learning how to program a robot, build it; it’s been really cool."

All the teams are feeling good about this competition and can’t wait to show off everything they’ve learned along the way.

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