Two teams of NIST Robotics secondary school students travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, USA, to compete at the VEX World Robotics Championship after they qualified at the Thailand tournament. As the largest robotics competition in the world, the event drew 600 elementary school and 800 middle and high school teams from across the world this year, grouped in divisions of approximately 100 teams each. Since its launch over a decade ago, VEX has sought to use the competition to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, citing “an unprecedented need for new innovators, thinkers, and problem solving leaders.”
The NIST participants formed an all-middle-school team called DotDotBot that competed in the middle school competition (which included 200 teams) and a mixed middle and high school team called White Elephants that competed in the high school competition (which included a staggering 600 teams). Students learned valuable lessons on teamwork, perseverance, problem solving, taking initiative, communication, handling stressful situations and pressure, and more as they programmed, planned and operated their robots.
Team DotDotBot won the Judges Award for their division, one award of only 13 for each division. “The Judges Award is presented to a team that the judges determine is deserving of special recognition, meaning our young engineers made themselves stand out for their work in the competition!
One of the final events of the competition is always the unveiling of next year’s game, which at first glance appears to be a very challenging game: Turning Point.
As they left the tournament, NIST students were already buzzing about how to design robots that meet the challenge and stick to the rules of the competition. Throughout the past several years, more and more students at NIST have been engaged by the high level of competitiveness and hands-on learning that is involved in robotics, and the programme will likely continue to grow.
We look forward to seeing our future programmers, engineers and mathematicians on the world stage again soon!