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Pahrump robotics team battles for state title

A Pahrump robotics team is on a potential path to a statewide victory.

Awkward Silence, a Pahrump Southern Nye County 4-H robotics team, is heading to Sparks for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge State Championship after months of work and competitions. The team’s last hurdle was earlier this month during the southern league tournament.

In the league tournament, Awkward Silence made to the finals with their alliance partner the Neocratic Nerds, though they didn’t win overall, according to Jason Riendeau, who coaches the team with his wife, Jennifer Woeger-Riendeau.

Awkward Silence did take home two trophies: one of league championship finalists and the Control Award, Jason said.

The team also qualified to compete in the state championship.

The two-day-long competition (Feb. 21-22) will have teams from Southern and Northern Nevada.

Awkward Silence has been a strong team since it formed during the 2017-18 season. The team went to the semi-finals in the statewide competition that season in Reno.

Other Pahrump teams have also done well in recent years, as interest in the robotics competitions has grown over the last few years.

The Pahrump Valley High School Circuit Breakers went all the way to the way to the end with the winning alliance at a statewide championship in the 2018-19 season.

The First Tech Challenge is one of several programs offered through First Nevada, a nonprofit organization that organizes the competitions. The organization has a range of programs it puts together, based on age categories.

The organization promotes its FIRST Robotics programs and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiatives. Under the guise of that effort, there are four levels of building and robotics design that youth can get involved with, where some are dependent upon their age: FIRST LEGO League Jr., FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition.

The overall variety of programs is open to children ages six to 18; however, the tech challenge (FTC) is only open to those kids ages 12-18.

Fundraising efforts

Awkward Silence has earned the honor of going to the championship through hard work and dedication on the field. But a lot of effort in fundraising also occurred over the season.

The team has raised hundreds of dollars through car washes and other events. Awkward Silence also put on an annual gala at Bob Ruud in late January.

For those that are going to be in Northern Nevada on Saturday, head to Reed High School at 1350 Baring Blvd. in Sparks for the state championship. The matches start at 8:30 a.m. with the finals beginning at 2:45 p.m., and the event is free.

For those who can’t travel, head to twitch.tv/firstnevada to view the competition online.

Contact Interim Editor Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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