Students take part in robot competition in Madera

MADERA, Calif.

It's like a sport, but a sport of the minds. Aerial assist is a game where high school robotic teams go head to head.

"It's also really intense. You have the crowd, everybody's cheering. You have about 2 minutes 30 seconds to score a ton of points, and you want to beat everybody," said Aaron Tesei, a Madera High School student.

Tesei is a member of FIRST Team 1323 from Madera -- just one of the many that headed to Madera South to compete at the Regional Robotics Competition. On Friday, the teams were hard at work on their robots to give them the upper hand in the arena. Organizers say the event is meant to give kids opportunities in the stem fields of science, technology, math and engineering.

"Trying to inspire kids to get excited about math and science, and I think we need to be looking forward in terms of innovation and getting more kids going in the field of engineering," said Alan Hollman, FIRST Regional Chair.

The gym was packed with kids working on robots tinkering away and full of their school spirit. One team stood out -- the all-girls team 1159 Ramona Rampage from Southern California.

"It actually does a lot because STEM is really male dominated, which is a problem because females are just as good at STEM as males are," said Alex McCullah, a Ramona Covenant Secondary School student.

Based on each booth, you could see how students are using those lessons.

"This is really cool because you're actually learning while you're doing it and learning hands-on engineering," said Tesei. "It's actually really fun and competitive at the same time."

Local teams are hoping they can rise to the top. You can catch the robotic action this weekend at Madera South. This is the third annual F.I.R.S.T. Competition in the Central valley. Organizers say teams came from as far away as Hawaii and Idaho to participate. The playoffs are on Saturday and the final competition is on Sunday.

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