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Robots took over campus on Saturday, January 27!

Norfolk Academy hosted 19 robotics teams from Virginia and Maryland, more than 100 middle and high school students, and countless fans in a day-long FIRST Tech Challenge. These competitions allow teams to design, build, and operate their own robots. The top teams qualify for even larger competitions that will be held in the spring.

The NA event had an added twist, as teams formed alliances that worked together over the course of the competition. With plenty of creative team names (NAnobots, Double Quarter Pounders, and Phantom of the OpMode just to name a few), uniforms, and spirited fan bases, a good time was had by all.

A variety of awards are handed out at competitions. On Saturday, Norfolk Academy earned third place for the Motivate category, which recognizes the culture of FIRST and competing as a team. Winners show gracious professionalism and enthusiasm, and make an effort to make FIRST known throughout their school and community. In addition to competing, several NA students and parents and teachers volunteered their time to make the event a success.

This capped a successful season for NA. At an earlier event, the NAnobots won the Think Award, which goes to the team that grew the most during the engineering design process of the robot build. The team also earned third place in the Inspire and Connect categories. Inspire winners are strong ambassadors for the FIRST program. Connect winners connect well with their local science, technology, engineering, and math community.

Norfolk Academy graduated a number of seniors from its 2022-23 team, but a new group of captains stepped up in 2023-24. Hunter Wheary '24 and Xander Dukas '25 were the primary builders. Jacob Ezieme '24 did most of the programming, growing into that role throughout the season. Julian Burke '24 and Owen Yeung '24 managed the electronics. Ann Gray Golpira '24 documented the engineering process and Zoë Jones '24 provided outreach, two major reasons for the team awards. 

Teacher-Coach Dr. Robert Call advises the robotics team.

Photos from the Jan. 27 FIRST Tech Challenge

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