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Benson hosts Ayer Shirley FIRST Robotics Team at State House


BOSTON — State Rep. Jennifer Benson hosted an event at the State House featuring a presentation by students from the Ayer Shirley Regional High School’s (ASRHS) FIRST Robotics Team.

In the Member’s Lounge of the House of Representatives, students delivered a presentation to legislators and their staffs about the FIRST Robotics program and its value. Noting that more than 75 percent of FIRST participants go on to study science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) in college, the students discussed the problem-solving, time management and other skills they have learned as team members.

The group also unveiled its MassFIRST campaign, which has the goal of getting a FIRST Robotics program up and running in every school district in the Commonwealth. Since launching the campaign last year, Andromeda One has crisscrossed Massachusetts promoting the benefits of FIRST Robotics, and has mentored several school districts as they start their own teams.

“I first met with the Ayer Shirley team last October, and I thought what they were doing to spark an interest in kids to consider careers in STEM was incredible,” said Benson as she introduced the students. “Their MassFIRST campaign is so admirable because they are taking what they have learned as a relatively new team, and are using that to help other school districts.”

After the presentation, attendees, including Benson and other legislators, test drove the team’s current robot, Merlin.

The ASRHS team, Andromeda One, was founded in 2014 and has more than 40 current members, which amounts to more than 10 percent of the high school’s student body. Interest in robotics and engineering has grown so much at Ayer-Shirley Regional High School, that the school has begun offering introductory engineering, software programming and computer-aided design courses.

FIRST Robotics was founded in 1992 by inventor Dean Kamen, and has grown to include more than 400,000 students. Each year, thousands of teams across the country are presented with a new challenge and tasked with building a robot to compete in regional and national competitions.

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