Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

camera operators and robotics playing area

The Telecom production team livestreamed the Newport News Regional Qualifying Tournament for the FIRST LEGO League Challenge, which was held Saturday, November 5, at Crittenden Middle School.

The Challenge is a robotics competition for elementary and middle school students in grades 3-8.

FIRST, which stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology," is a robotics community that uses team robotics programs to "prepare young people for the future."

According to the FIRST website, the Challenge is about friendly competition that includes students participating in research, coding, and engineering, plus problem-solving and teamwork.

This year’s challenge is called "SUPERPOWERED," and pertains to sustainable energy. Collecting energy units from sources around the playing area and distributing them to where the energy will be consumed is the main goal of the robot game.

A huge success last year, particularly due to COVID rules barring family members from the gym, the livestream was on the NNPS Telecom Student YouTube channel: youtube.com/nnpstelecom. It may viewed on demand now at  https://youtu.be/e7TyNwA-Qgs.

Telecom Supervisor Ray Price got the crew set up and then departed for his prior commitment working a game for ESPN. A small Telecom team, which included two Telecom graduates and two current students, handled the production for the entire day. Using the portable ATEM Mini Pro switcher allowed the Telecom team to do the multi-camera production with a smaller crew.

Telecom alumnus Brandon Hedgepeth served as Director/Stream Coordinator/Graphics Operator, while his brother, current Telecom student Ryan Hedgepeth, was Audio Technician and also did camera work. Telecom grad Muriel Gamble and current student Jacob Trias were Camera Operators.

NNPS STEM Instructional Specialist Kevin Nelhuebel said the Telecom crew did an outstanding job.

"We were very excited to include them in the competition, giving it a new dimension," he added.

VA-DC FLL Regional Tournament Coordinator Karen Berger said via email that the Telecom team was professional and "awesome to work with."

"Teams and volunteers alike love the fact that they can share the tournament experience with their friends and family that can't be there in person," she said of the livestream.

The Telecom crew received the "Volunteer Award" for the event in appreciation of their dedication and expertise, and the excellent service they provided.

Deer Park Elementary earned the Robot Performance and Robot Design awards, General Stanford Elementary and Hines Middle School earned the Innovative Project award, and Sedgefield Elementaryearned the Core Values award and moved on to the semi-final competition at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

Twenty teams participated in the competition, with 13 from NNPS. Almost 200 students were involved.

The video had around 600 views on the Monday following the event.

Watch the video