2017-05-17 / Education

CES robotics team reports on international competition

By Lauri Rice
Contributing writer

Carroll School Board witnessed a demonstration by Carroll Elementary’s Robotics Team at a recent board meeting. The team competed in the world championship in Louisville, Ky. Comet photo by Lauri Rice Carroll School Board witnessed a demonstration by Carroll Elementary’s Robotics Team at a recent board meeting. The team competed in the world championship in Louisville, Ky. Comet photo by Lauri Rice Carroll Elementary Robotics Team recently competed in the Vex Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Ky. The team had a wonderful time at the competition, competed well, learned a lot, and are excited to compete in the future.

The idea of elementary robotics started as a Google Time group. It turned into an after school club and then a morning club. Last spring, the group went after grant money to support a team.

“We thought that we were just going to test the waters with competitive robotics, but ended up jumping in head first,” Matt Benner said.

A year ago, there were only 72 Vex Robotics teams in Indiana. This year there were 518.

After competing in two local competitions, the students found out that teamwork competitions are fun but skills challenges are the way to qualify for state and world competitions.

One student said, “Our highest score in our first competition was 19 points, but in the state competition we scored 67, which was high enough to place us 21st in the state.”

At the world competition, each team had a pit location and many were decorated with something from the team’s culture.

“Since our team was called the Carroll Construction Crew, we had a construction theme for our pit,” the student said.

Day two of the event began with a “Parade of Nationals” as an opening ceremony for the event. One student commented, “This made it feel like the Olympics of robotics.”

The CES team competed in five teamwork challenges. Instead of competing against other schools, they competed with another team to score as many points as possible. During these challenges they competed with teams from California, North Carolina, Texas, and another team from Indiana. At the end of the day, Carroll was ranked 36th out of 68 teams. They were also able to successfully run the autonomous program for their robot to earn an additional 26 points, which put them in 108th place on the skills board at the end of day two.

On the final day, Carroll’s team started with teamwork competitions. Their only international teammate was from Canada.

“They had a really well-built robot,” one student commented.

The Canadian team helped Carroll complete tasks they had never been able to do before, and they ended that run with their best score of the competition.

Carroll ended day two in 32nd place in the Technology division in the teamwork competition, which was not quite enough to make the finals, but it was a good lesson in how to adapt their robot to come up with the best possible solution to a problem, and left them with many ideas to work on for next year. The teams wrapped up the event with an after party at Kentucky Kingdom.

Next year’s game, which was revealed after the winners were announced, has sparked interest in each member of the team.

“Many of us can’t wait to see what we can do to solve the new problems we will face with the new challenging game.”

Benner says the best part of robotics is the fact that the team is student driven.

“The students run every aspect of the team. They research, create designs, and build their own robot.” Each student plays an important role within the team including team manager, communications liaison, and driver. “Truly, there is something for everyone to do on the robotics team.”

“As a teacher, the best type of learning occurs when you can set a group of students on the right path and then step back and let them work their magic,” Benner commented. Robotics is great because “problem solving, physics, math, communication, sportsmanship, and teamwork are all explored in one place.”

The robotics team hopes to expand next year by creating a junior high team and a girl power team. There are also opportunities for students as young as second grade to join robotics.

Carroll School Board has said it will do what it can to support students interested in robotics.

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