Robotics teams from Buchanan High in Clovis, Duncan Polytechnical High in Fresno and Madera High were regional finalists in the FIRST Robotics Competition held this weekend in Madera.
The alliance of the three Valley high school teams -- Buchanan Bird Brains, Duncan Dynamics and MadTown Robotics -- lost in the final round of competition to an alliance of high schools from San Jose and Atascadero.
The winning schools advance to the FIRST World Championship, April 23-26 at the Edwards Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League.
Buchanan High School's team won the prestigious Chairman's Award, honoring the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate. The award means the team will get an invitation to the FIRST Championship competition in St. Louis.
In addition, Elias Avila of Madera High and Callie Carbajal of Buchanan High were chosen for the Dean's List award, which honors outstanding student leaders. Those students also are expected to get invited to the national competition, according to organizers.
The Central Valley Regional competition, which drew teams from throughout California as well as from Idaho and Hawaii, was held Friday through Sunday at Madera South High School.
Local event organizers say FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people to pursue careers in science and technology. The teams, with their mentors, get six weeks to brainstorm, design, construct, problem-solve and test their 120-pound robot.
FIRST team members are also eligible for more than $19 million in scholarships.
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