Robotics & Computer Science (FIRST, Zero, VEX, Skills USA) Idaho teams compete at the top levels.

Community mentors and event helpers are always needed

The Robotic competitions are heating up going into September. Check out all the action below with the four different programs below. The first two tend to be used as afterschool club type events and the last two are suited for in-classroom situations. I have links to the national organizations as they tend to explain things and then links to the state group if there is one. You’ll also find several news articles from the summer competitions.

Many of the events have either a middle school or a high school component so teams compete against their own age levels. Community mentors and event helpers are always needed and I can help you with contacts if the websites are not clear.


–1) Find out what the FIRST® Robotics Leagues are about and how to participate or start a team. These are described as an engineering experience with some programming.

*** The challenge parameters for the middle school program FIRST® LEGO® League will be release on Tuesday August 26th

From University of Idaho’s 4H Robotics page Kick off events below, check U of I’s FLL and FTC pages for other deadlines and tournaments. FLL (ages 9-14) FTC (ages 12-18)
Aug. 30 – Ada County Library, Victory Rd. Branch, Boise – 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm (FLL)
Sept. 3 – Weiser Vendome, Weiser – 5:00 – 6:30 pm (FLL)
Sept. 6 – Hepworth Building Room 108, College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, 9:30-2:00 pm (FTC)
Sept. 8 – Trade & Technology Building, Building 51, 2nd floor, Idaho State University, Pocatello, 4:00 pm (FLL)
Sept. 9 – SEL Event Center, Pullman, WA – 5:30 – 8:00 pm (FLL/FTC)
Sept. 11 – North Idaho Christian School, Hayden, ID – 6:00 – 8:00 pm (FLL/FTC)

The best-kept secret in robotics: the kids! Coeur d’Alene Press


–2) ZERO Robotics – This one has more programming

Based on the FIRST challenges but instead of engineering the experience is programming (in C) space robots aboard the International Space Station. The very first pilot competition was between two north Idaho high schools in 2009 and organized by Discover Technology founder Dr. Lorna Finman. The high school competition now even includes schools in the European Space Agency nations.

This summer Barbara Morgan, NASA/BSU, was instrumental in getting three Meridian teams in the middle school competition, one of which made it all the way to the finals where they got to watch on live cast as the space station robots ran their code.

The high school ZERO Robitics competition kicks off on September 6th with a live webcast from MIT. Training provided via webinars. Find a team, find a mentor, create a name and register your team of 5-20 students by September 24th to participate.



3) VEX Robotics – This summer we had a Burley team travel to Hawaii and win the Vex International Summer Championship. The high school and middle school VEX competitions and a few others can be found on this site Early season tournaments are coming up this fall in Wood River and in Caldwell.


4) SKillsUSA

Idaho’s Professional Technical Education department
has several robotics competitions available in the SKillsUSA program including humanform, mobile, automation, and search and rescue.