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King George High STEM team wins robotics competition at UMW Dahlgren campus

A STEM team from King George High School won the High School Innovation Challenge at UMW’s Dahlgren campus last week. Photo by Dave Ellis.

Brainstorming, creativity and good old-fashioned teamwork earned a team from King George High School the top spot in a robotics-style challenge at the University of Mary Washington‘s Dahlgren campus.

More than 100 local public and private school students from Stafford to Northern Neck competed last week in the 3rd annual High School Innovation Challenge for a cash prize, trophy, robotics kits for their school and bragging rights.

King George High’s team took away a cash prize of $3,500. Westmoreland High School took second place, winning $2,500, and Fredericksburg Christian School came in third, claiming $1,500.

The teams battled it out in lightning rounds, and completed an “ENRG” mission that required them to engage by assembling robots to navigate challenging terrain on a quest to recover critical hardware while gathering intel and maintaining mission awareness. In addition to cash, winners took home robotics kits for their schools.

UMW Provost Timothy O’Donnell challenged the groups to encourage each other, step back from the stress and have fun, while also keeping the goal of the competition in mind: to encourage and foster STEM learning in Virginia’s fastest growing region.

“This is a really critical region in our nation and in our state. The work you’re doing today contributes to that,” O’Donnell said. “You’re training the mind, you’re harnessing talents, you’re bringing together your skills to solve really complex problems. And that’s what this country needs going forward.”

The High School Innovation Challenge is hosted by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), Fredericksburg Regional Military Affairs Council, MITRE Corporation, King George Economic Development Authority and UMW.

According to UMW College of Business Lecturer and Fredericksburg Regional Military Affairs Council Chairman John Burrow, the key to the competitions is the ability to solve problems, experience failures and bounce back with solutions.

“STEM events are critical to our success and students are our lifeline,” NSWCDD Acting Technical Director Shellie Clift said before the competition. “They’re going to be what allows us to extend our ability to deter and defeat our adversaries far into the future. I hope [this experience] inspires them to become one of us one day.”

‘What scientists and engineers do every day’: High school students compete in robotics challenge – Augusta Free Press

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.