About Our Team

Dark Matter is a community-based FIRST® Tech Challenge team of high schoolers, based in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. Dark Matter 14374 is a continuation of Mandeville Junior High’s Dark Matter 10337. Dark Matter transitioned to a community team in the 2018-2019 season with the help of parents who wanted to see the team continue.  We just completed our 6th season as a community team.

Each year we build a robot designed to meet the challenges of a new competitive game created by FIRST®. Founded in 1989, FIRST® stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”, and was the brainchild of Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. FIRST is the world’s largest non-profit for kids robotics.

FIRST® Tech Challenge teams are challenged to design, build, program and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge using an alliance format. Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team. Teams compete at multiple qualifiers in hopes to advance to their Regional Championship and then advance to the World Championship. More importantly, our Dark Matter team is more than robots. Throughout the season, our team members learn: Computer Programming, Electrical Engineering, Business Planning, Structural Engineering, Public Speaking, Community Outreach & Volunteering and much more.

Dark Matter was the FTC Louisiana Inspire Award Winner for the 2019-2020 Skystone Season and advanced to the World Championship. Unfortunately that year the Championship was canceled due to Covid.  Dark Matter earned the Inspire Award again for the 2021-22 Freight Frenzy Season and advanced to the World Championship in April 2022, it was a truly inspiring opportunity that motivated our team in many ways. This Power Play Season has been our most rewarding yet, our team earned the Inspire Award at the 2023 Louisiana Regional Championship March 4, 2023 and earned a spot to represent Louisiana and St. Tammany Parish at the 2023 World Championship event. The event in Houston April 18-22nd attracted over 50,000 people from around the world, all with a common love for robotics. The teams, volunteers, emcees and judges all created an unforgettable atmosphere celebrating STEM. We are honored to have been awarded the {robot} Design Award for the Franklin Division at the FIRST World Championship. What an amazing way to end our Power Play season! Despite challenges finding a centrally located practice space over the last few seasons, our has team continued on a smaller scale with home schooled and community team members utilizing First Tech Challenge as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop our engineering skills.

FIRST is much more than robots. Our team is active in our community spreading the word about FIRST® and getting kids excited about robots and STEM! Even as a small team, we strive to have a big impact. Our team dedicated over 400 man hours of outreach during our Power Play season. We are thankful for all our supporters and sponsors who make it possible for us to continue to develop our engineering skills and impact our community. Join us in helping FIRST inspire young people to become the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals. Visit the Support Our Team page for more info.