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High schoolers are putting their high-tech sportsmanship skills to the test at the La Crosse Center for the third annual Seven Rivers Regional Robotics Competition.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is hosting 54 high schools from seven states and one team from China in the three-day event presented by Boeing.

The deep-space-themed competition is hosting more than 1,000 team members and mentors, and 125 volunteers.

“This is about, not just the event, but connecting with our local community,” said Steve Bissen, Seven Rivers Regional planning chair.

The high schoolers had to build their own robots in six weeks. Each team, which consists of three sub-teams, must complete a set of tasks involving collecting and transporting disks and balls in only two minutes.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit organization founded about 30 years ago by Dean Kamen, an inventor and engineer.

Teams are competing for the opportunity to participate in FIRST’s world championship April 24-27 in Detroit.

“This is what we need for a 21st-century workforce, and La Crosse needs (that) workforce,” Bissen said, “You’ll come curious and leave inspired.”

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