Alachua County is sending four elementary teams and eight middle school teams to Dallas to compete in the VEX Robotics World Championships in April and May.
Teams from Wiles Elementary, Glen Springs Elementary, Lincoln Middle School, Westwood Middle School, Howard W. Bishop Middle School, and Oakview Middle School will be competing at Worlds, which starts on April 25 and ends on May 4.
David Sankey, a robotics teacher at Westwood Middle School, emphasized the importance of the program.
“The power of this program is that it is a real engineering experience,” he said. “Between my teams, they've probably built over 100 robots this season. Your first attempt will never do it. You have to rebuild again and again and again. After all, it took 11 Apollos to get to the moon. This program is the only program we offer public schools that really give students this engineering experience.”
The VEX Robotics World Championship is recognized as the largest robotics competition in the world by Guinness World Records. According to the VEX Worlds website, the event “brings together the top VEX IQ Competition, VEX Robotics Competition, and VEX U teams from around the globe to celebrate their accomplishments and participate to be crowned champions.”
At the competition, students will build a robot and work together in an engineering challenge game. The teams collaborate to win points in the Teamwork Matches and get the chance to show off their individual skills in a driver-controlled and programming Robot Skills Challenge.
Brett Anderson, coach of team Squirrel from Oak View Middle School, remarked on what the competition means to the students.
“It’s tremendous, especially for eighth graders," he said. "This is the first time that Oak View has ever gone to Worlds or honestly, any competition outside of Florida. So, you know, they understand that and the pressure is pretty high for them. But at the same time, like I said, they’ve been doing really well at local and regional competitions. They did well with the U.S. Open, so I think they’re ready for it. But it’s just it’s a gigantic source of pride for them."
To parents like Stefan Gerber, whose daughter is a part of team Roomba from Westwood Middle School, the best part of the competitions is the ability for children to work closely with teammates.
“Robotics has helped my children develop a range of soft skills that are valuable both in and out of the classroom,” she said in an email. “Kids learn to work in a team, problem solve, and manage time, which are all important skills that will benefit them in their future academic and professional pursuits.
“I have seen my kids break down in tears of frustration and disappointment only to be lifted up by the team and start again. My daughter is now going for the second time to Worlds in Dallas, and we couldn't be more proud of seeing team Roomba plan, prepare and strategize for this event.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS:
- Donkay!!! - Westwood Middle School
- The Six Wheeled Machine - Westwood Middle School
- FRE SHA VOCA DO - Westwood Middle School
- Roomba - Westwood Middle School
- The Underdogs - Lincoln Middle School
- Green House - Lincoln Middle School
- Drumroll Please - Lincoln Middle School
- Nat 20 - Howard W. Bishop Middle School
- Squirrel - Oakview Middle School
- Tech Tigers - Glen Springs Elementary
- Robo Tigers – Glen Springs Elementary
- GALE - Wiles Elementary
- Unknown - Wiles Elementary
Alachua County teams competed in February at the annual VEX Robotics Competition at Lincoln Middle School for a spot in VEX North/Central Florida State Championship.
Multiple teams from Alachua County advanced to the 2023 North/Central Florida Region VEX IQ Middle School State Championship and 2023 North/Central Florida Region VEX IQ Elementary State Championship.
STATE AWARD WINNERS:
- Teamwork Champion Award (VIQC) - Green House - Lincoln Middle School
- Teamwork Champion Award (VIQC) - FRE SHA VOCA DO – Westwood Middle School
- Robot Skills Champion (VIQC) - Drumroll Please – Westwood Middle School
- Amaze Award (VIQC) - The Underdogs - Lincoln Middle School
- Teamwork 2nd Place Award (VIQC) - Roomba - Westwood Middle School
- Teamwork 3rd Place Award (VIQC) - The Underdogs - Lincoln Middle School
- Teamwork 3rd Place Award (VIQC) - Donkay!!! - Westwood Middle School
- Teamwork 4th Place Award (VIQC) - Drumroll Please - Lincoln Middle School
- Teamwork 5th Place Award (VIQC) - Nat 20 - Howard W. Bishop Middle School
- Excellence Award (VIQC) - GALE - Wiles Elementary
Editor's note: Two teams were left of the original list that are now added from Oakview Middle School in Newberry and Glen Springs Elementary School.