Weekly roundup: Robots take center stage in Costa Mesa, OC students win culinary competition, and more

Robots aren’t ready to take over just yet, but they seem to be getting closer judging by the entries at a regional engineering competition in Costa Mesa.

About 1,500 high schoolers representing more than 40 teams showcased robotic creations that drove themselves and shot balls into a hoop at the FIRST Robotics Competition, which was held last week at the OC Fair & Event Center.

An Orange County Register photographer was on hand to capture a few photos of the action.

A news graphic

According to the Orange County Regional website, local students were “challenged to raise funds, design a team ‘brand,’ hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to go head to head against a field of competitors.”

That included performing a number of complex tasks, both autonomously and with their creators at the controls. Organizers said the challenges were designed to mimic real-world applications, like processing cargo for transport.

This year’s Orange County Regional was one of 58 events across the country that will channel students and their bots to the FIRST 2022 Championship in April.

Here are some of the other stories that we’ve been following this week:

  • A team of student-chefs from Newport Harbor High School cooked up a state title at a culinary competition in Long Beach and are now headed to the national finals in May. The contest presented 16 teams with a pair of butane burners and one hour to prep an appetizer, an entrée with a side dish, and dessert, the Daily Pilot reported.
  • About 60 Afghan children are staying in local hotels as they attend school through a unique program created by OCDE, the Register reported. The students are from families who had assisted U.S. troops back home or held other positions that jeopardized their safety after the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan. The OCDE Newsroom also has a story and a brief video on the program.
  • Classes were dismissed for the day at Kraemer Middle School in Placentia following the heartbreaking death of the school’s assistant principal, who reportedly took his own life in a private area on campus.
  • More than 650 student-musicians from the Irvine Unified School District took center stage for the annual Donald Bren Honors Concert following a two-year hiatus. The Irvine Company also presented a $2 million check to IUSD as part of its 20-year, $45 million commitment to supporting art, music and science in Irvine.
  • Recent changes to California’s school mask mandate may lead to intense feelings and emotions, including stress. The OCDE Newsroom posted some tips on how to support students through the shift, courtesy of OCDE and the county’s Regional Mental Health Coordinator Team.
  • In response to reported increases in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents in Orange County and across the country, UC Irvine is hosting a conference to equip K-12 teachers with training and resources designed to integrate Asian American studies into school curriculum. 
  • And finally, Brandon Futagaki, a physical education teacher at Valley Vista High in Fountain Valley, and Huy Pham, a science teacher at Westminster High, were announced as the Teachers of the Year for the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.