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James Madison High School students built a robot that will compete in the 2022 FIRST World Championship (via JMHS/Twitter)

Houston is the place to be this week for the robotics community, and several Fairfax County students scored exclusive invitations.

Fairfax County Public Schools has three teams in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championships, which kicked off today (Wednesday) at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

The annual event caps off months of work and competitions for high school students around the world who have designed, programmed and built industrial-sized robots that face off in sports-like games.

Representing Fairfax County among the 454 teams that qualified for the championships — most of them from the U.S. — are James Madison High School’s Warbots, the CAVEBOTICS from Woodson High School, and Oakton Cougar Robotics.

Madison and Oakton have both participated in FIRST Robotics Competitions since 2001, but for the Vienna school, this year marks its first trip to the championships after the Warbots won the school’s first-ever district title on April 9, according to FCPS.

FCPS is part of the Chesapeake District, which includes teams from Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and West Virginia.

Oakton Cougar Robotics previously made the championships in 2016.

Woodson’s CAVEBOTICS are relatively new to the scene. The Fairfax-based school added the team to its cybersecurity and robotics club last year, and it has already grown to over 50 students, according to a Gofundme fundraiser that the team started to support its activities.

With robots costing $6,000 to $12,000 a year to build, fundraising is among the many skills that students learn from the FIRST competitions, along with welding, coding, engineering, and project management, Madison High School said in its post on the Warbots.

A nonprofit founded in 1989, FIRST aims to support science, technology, engineering, and math education through school-based robotics programs for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

The championship will culminate with awards on Saturday (April 23). All of the contests and challenges, along with the closing ceremony, are being livestreamed on Twitch.

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Morning Notes

Spring flowers bloom in Reston (photo by Ray Copson)

FCPD Commander Demoted Over Shooting Response — “A Fairfax County police commander has been demoted as part of an ongoing administrative investigation of suicides by a department recruit and his wife that occurred hours apart in their Mount Vernon-area home in late February, authorities said…The officer was the on-scene commander during the incident.” [The Washington Post]

Fire Put Out Near Vienna’s Flint Hill Elementary — “Crews responded this morning to the 2400 block of Flint Hill Road for a small fire in a chicken coop. #FCFRD firefighters were im-peck-able in quickly egg-stinguishing the fire. Everyone felt very cluck-y that there were no reported fowl-talities or injuries.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Last Living Pupil Revisits Historic Oakton School — The Vale Schoolhouse in Oakton got a visit from a familiar face last week. Now 103 years old, Stan Proffitt stopped by the two-room building, which dates back to 1884, with his three great-grandchildren from Florida during their spring break tour of Virginia history. [The Washington Post]

Conflict over Reston Invasive Species Program Continues — The Hunters Green Cluster Association board unanimously rejected a proposal to address invasive plants in the area, stating that the Reston National Study Group “has greatly exaggerated the problem.” The developer-led study group expressed surprise at the move, saying the pilot program was proposed by a member of the neighborhood’s board. [Patch]

McLean Design Workshop Tomorrow — “Weigh in on the design of McLean’s public spaces through this upcoming virtual community workshop! Share feedback on open space features including lighting, street furnishings, parks and more to help define the character of McLean!” [McLean Community Center/Twitter]

Reston Prom Dress Giveaway Returns From Pandemic Hiatus — “High school students from around the area will be able to choose prom dresses, jewelry and accessories for free as part of RCC’s Diva Central. The event will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., this Saturday at RCC Lake Anne, which is located at 1609-A Washington Plaza in Reston.” [Patch]

Hunter Mill Supervisor Recognizes Vienna Student Athletes — “The Board of Supervisors traditionally invites state champions to be recognized at a special meeting. During COVID, these were paused. Today, @WalterAlcornFFX joined us at school to recognize basketball, field hockey, baseball & swim/dive from the past two years…[He] also recognized the Pride of Vienna for their multiple state championships. Back 2 Back!” [James Madison High School/Twitter]

County Celebrates Land Surveyors — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have designated the week of March 20-26, 2022 as Surveyors Week. This week recognizes the historic contributions of surveying and appreciation for the new technologies that are modernizing the profession.” [Department of Public Works/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 46. Sunrise at 7:10 a.m. and sunset at 7:24 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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