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All About Bots

On Saturday, they came, they watched, and they competed at Cardinal Gibbons High School in what could be called the first stop in the World Series of Robotics.

This is the fifth consecutive year Gibbons hosted the Eastern Regional FIRST Tech Challenge tournament of the not-for-profit known as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Our school’s two robotics teams and 20 others from throughout the region competed with their student-built robots to vie for a spot in the state tournament. The January 13 competition, which ran from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., comprised a daylong series of robotic challenges, and attracted over 300 people. There were also more than 80 volunteers on hand to help, including many Gibbons parents, students, and educators.

For this year’s competition, which touts itself as the ultimate sport of the mind, each team built a robot from a specified list of parts and then programmed it to accomplish tasks designated in FIRST RELIC RECOVERY.  Read full description of this year's challenge.

Gibbons … really shined in hosting the event,” said John Toebes, a coach of the Cardinal Gibbons robotics team and parent of two Gibbons graduates (Anne Marie’06 and Margaret ’10). Toebes noted that this is also the 10th year Gibbons has had a team participating in the FIRST Tech tournament. His daughter Margaret is a coach and co-founder of the school’s robotics team.  

One of our teams, Deus Ex Machina, placed second for the Inspire Award, which is given to teams that performed well in all categories and are considered model FIRST Tech Challenge teams on and off the playing field. In turn, Deus Ex Machina, along with five other teams that received awards, will advance to the state tournament. There is a second qualifying tournament later this month to determine which of the remaining 16 teams, including our second team, Purple Gears, will advance to the state tournament next month.

When asked what she learned from being involved with robotics, Brigitte Gallagher ’20 said, “robotics helped me break out of my comfort zone, become a better team member, and feel part of the community.”

Oliver McCann ’18, added that robotics has given him numerous chances, “to explore leadership and service opportunities as well as to experience working on a research and development team with real-world constraints.”

Related link: Watch the tournament live in this video by Cardinal Gibbons video students @

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