Alva Review-Courier -

Freedom robotics team formed


November 7, 2019

Marlo Smith

The Freedom robotics team spends their lunchtime learning more about programming robots.

Freedom Public Schools has begun a robotics team. It will be one of the only For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) teams in northwest Oklahoma. The team of 13 students, ranging from seventh to tenth grade, are excited to be part of an innovative program.

"It's way more than building robots," Bretta Matthews, co-coach of the team, said. "We're wanting to promote team building and high level critical thinking skills."

Team members not only design and build robots but they raise team funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach to earn specific awards. The group has been raising funds since the beginning of the year and appreciate all of the community support and funding.

"Traveling with our team and buying components for our robot is very expensive and we appreciate the community support thus far, " Marlo Smith, co-coach of the team, said. "The expense is secondary to the experience, skills and the abundant new innovation these students are learning. The expense and time is worth it." The team will travel to Tulsa to compete on Nov. 23 and to Oklahoma City on Jan. 11.

Participants of the program are eligible to apply for over $80 million in college scholarships.

Marlo Smith

Ariana White, Payton Kirkpatrick and Kaitlynn Rhodes spend hours in the science lab during fall break to build a robot to competition standards.

FIRST Tech Challenge teams (up to 15 team members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program and operate a robot to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. This competition promotes team building and high level of thinking. Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation and working as a team. FIRST is unique because of the understanding and practice of Gracious Professionalism, cooperating and competing in alliances at tournaments, where teams learn how to work together.

According to their website,, Gracious Professionalism is a philosophy that has coined FIRST, and states that it "is more than robots." The founder, Dean Kamen, is recognized as having the leading not-for-profit STEM engagement program for kids worldwide.

Kamen says, "The robots are a vehicle for students to learn important life skills. Kids often come in not knowing what to expect – of the program nor of themselves. They leave, even after the first season, with a vision, with confidence, and with a sense that they can create their own future."

If anyone is interested in donating funds or their time and expertise, contact Freedom Public School at 580-621-3271.


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