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On Top of the World

After five matches and recording each of the 10 best scores in Louisiana competitions this season, the Mandeville Junior High Robotics team, Dark Matter, is ranked No. 1 in the world out of 5,500 teams in the FIRST FTC division.

Dark Matter swept through the New Orleans Area Qualifier in November and the Northshore Qualifier in January, going 9-0 in both competitions.

FIRST's motto of "More than Robots" is reinforced daily through team activities. In their qualifying wins, Dark Matter racked up numerous awards, including Inspire Award, Winning Alliance, Control Award, and Design Award. They were also finalists for the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award, Think Award, and Motivate Award. The team members maintain a log of all activities in an Engineering Notebook, raise team funds through fundraising and sponsorships, create and present presentations for Outreach, participate in community service activities, market and brand their team as well as FIRST, and communicate with other teams through social media.

Thirteen MJH students compose Team Dark Matter – Olivia Apatini, Blaise Biskupovich, Sydney Bray, Ryan Cato, Ashley Delorimier, Sebastian Escobar-Mesa, Taylor Flagg, Danielle Garbarino, Pakorn Liengsawangwong, Logan Livaudais, James Morgan, Majeed Najdi, and Matthew Truehart. MJH coaches/school sponsors are Jonathan Holly and Tracey Martinez; adult mentors are Brent Bray, Philip Livaudais, and Mike Sonnier; high school student mentors are Mason Bray, Piper Fullington, Kayla Martinez, Reza Najdi, Bailey Smoorenburg, Emma Sonnier, and Kurt Wanner. Johnny 9 is Team Dark Matter’s robot.

Team Dark Matter has qualified for the 2018 Louisiana Regional Championship, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the University of New Orleans. Admission is free and open to the public.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, N.H., the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is for teams of middle and high school-aged students who are challenged to design, build, and program a robot to play a floor game against other teams’ creations. This year's game is called Relic Recovery.

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St. Tammany Parish Public School System
321 N. Theard Street, Covington, LA 70434-0940
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