NIST Programmers Earn Recognition at VEX World Robotics Championship

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!

From NIST to the Halls of the UN

During the February holidays, many were at beaches, exotic countries or back home with their families. While others relaxed and sunbathed, 22 students from the NIST Model United Nations (MUN) team were working hard, preparing speeches and writing resolutions in anticipation of the three-day SEASAC Model United Nations conference from the 27th of February. Students from almost a dozen international schools around the region came together to debate real-life issues while taking upon the perspective of the countries they represented at the United World College of South East Asia East Campus.

We worked hand-in-hand to debate global issues, and created the best possible resolutions to address the most pressing, contentious topics in our world. Unlike some other Model United Nations events that I have attended, the 2015 SEASAC MUN  was an amazing conference, and students and teachers alike witnessed high-level, lively debate throughout.

Our delegation consisted of students from Years 10 through 12, with MUN experience ranging from just a few conferences to as many as nine. This conference was a unique and valuable experience for all of us. As one of the more experienced delegates, I learned to lead and drive the debate within my committee (the Security Council), as well as assist others.

Yana Charoenboonvivat, a second-year MUN participant who was a member of the challenging “International Court of Justice” committee, said, “Before participating, I was always afraid of voicing my opinions in public. My attitude towards public speaking changed once I attended SEASAC MUN. I was placed in a committee where I was obligated to speak and soon gained my confidence.”

A first-year MUN participant, Kohei Hayakawa said, “As a delegate with only two conferences under my belt, I was first intimidated by the atmosphere and the seriousness. But as the conference got underway, I realized that anyone who wanted to debate was welcome, and I was able to step up and go to the podium, where I was able to gradually learn how to debate effectively.”

Overall, not only was SEASAC Model United Nations a great learning experience for all, it was also lots of fun, and was a great way to spend the February break. Thanks to our amazing supervisors, Simon Scoones and Zoe Perry, we were one of the strongest delegations at the conference, and ultimately made this a truly successful trip.

– Kengo Shigeta