Gulfport’s Junk in the Trunk is the place to get rid of your old household items, get them recycled, and move out a little of the past to make way for the future. Saturday, October 28 at the 49th Street Neighborhood Center, it was also the place to see some of Gulfport’s bright minds of the future in action. Boca Ciega High School’s robotics team, Robots in Paradise, was at the event, showing off their remote-controlled robot before it heads back into competition.
Team Vice President Milli Nguyen made some quick adjustments to the wheeled robot, which President Samantha Wetter piloted.
“We use a cell phone as a remote receiver and a video game controller to navigate the robot around,” said Wetter. Nguyen explained that in competition, they have a set time to try to score more points than the opponent by moving objects to different points on a padded floor grid.
The team, which is only in its first year, will be competing in upcoming FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge events at local high schools. If they qualify for regionals in early March they will move on to Athens, Georgia a few weeks later for the super regionals. There they would battle for a chance to be in the World Championships in April.
The competitions are a great way for students to hone their STEM skills, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. More than 200 colleges make over 50 million dollars available to students who participate in the FIRST program. Some 60,000 students on 6,000 teams from 25 different countries are competing.
Other activities at Junk in the Trunk, which happens three times a year and is co-sponsored by the Gulfport Neighbors and the city of Gulfport, included coffee with a cop, gardening advice from Gulfport’s community garden, a station to donate non-perishables for hurricane victims, a bike registry and music.