FIRST Boise, then the world

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Marty Mueller, co-founder of Gizmo-CDA, debriefs the TeraViks Robotics team Tuesday afternoon at North Idaho College. The team defeated 40 other teams at the Idaho Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in Boise over the weekend and will compete in the FIRST Championship in late April.

By DEVIN WEEKS

Staff Writer

The TeraViks took a "byte" out of their robotics rivals during the Idaho Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in Boise over the weekend.

The team allied with two other top-notch robotics groups — Boise School District's Team Tators and Up-A-Creek Robotics from the St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado — and together the tech triumvirate bot-battled to the top after besting nearly 40 other teams.

"I’m absolutely honored,” said Lake City High School junior Crista Falk, a co-lead programmer for the TeraViks. “I’m super grateful for every team on our alliance and the mentors and parents that helped. We definitely wouldn’t have gotten there without them."

The TeraViks is Gizmo-CDA's FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition team, which comprises 12 high school students from across North Idaho. Gizmo co-founder Barb Mueller said the team is very student-driven and the success in the tournament reaffirmed its confidence.

"It was great, it was really wonderful," she said of the team's victory. "In the end they made this alliance and we were winning it all."

Each team demonstrated the abilities of their scratch-made robots as the bots completed different tasks, including autonomous movement, moving and lifting boxes and more.

"We were a full-service bot," Mueller said. "A lot (of robots) can push things around or grab things or stack things, but we can do all of those."

The competition had an old-school, 8-bit theme of "Power Up," so the TeraViks fittingly named their bot "Q*Bert" after the 1982 video game and created shields and badges with 8-bit designs.

“It’s a super-cool experience,” said Kennedy Beach, LCHS junior and team programmer. "I’ve never done something like this before so this is totally new to me. I’m just honored to have this opportunity to be able to go to worlds."

Students from around the world will compete in the FIRST Championship (split into two events) from April 18-21 in Houston and in Detroit from April 25-28.

"Coming from an Idaho team, there’s a stigma that we aren’t focused on technology, that we don’t have that real initiative toward STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” Crista said. "I think the fact that we’re going to be competing, representing our region alongside great, amazing teams really is important."

The team is working on raising $15,000 to pay for travel expenses, housing and entry fees for when they participate in the Houston event.

Info: www.facebook.com/TeraViks

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