I’d like to introduce my first guest blogger, Sandeep Hiremath, who is an education technology evangelist here at MathWorks. In this role, Sandeep supports student competitions by mentoring teachers and student teams for pre-university competitions such as VEX Robotics.
The VEX Robotics championships will be broadcast on national TV for the first time ever. But that’s not the only first for this competition! According to the Washington Post, this year’s competition also marks the first time a team from Syria competed at the international level. The team is comprised of refugee teens who overcame limited resources to earn a spot in the international competition.Their robot was called ‘Robogee’ which is a mash-up of “robot” and “refugee.”
Student competitions are a great learning opportunity, enabling students to gain hands-on experience in applying the math and science lessons taught in the classroom. The competitions also help the students develop teamwork and communication skills. It’s nice to see these competitions gaining in both popularity and visibility!
The 2016 VEX world championship, VEX Worlds, will be televised on ESPN2 tonight at 9PM EST/ 6PM PST. It will be a great recap of this record-setting student competition.
The VEX competitions, presented by the REC Foundation, are robotics- and engineering-based challenges. They are organized at various venues around the world. Local competitions were held in 37 different countries prior to this year’s championship tournament. Over 16,000 teams participated in the local leagues in an attempt to qualify for the VEX Worlds championship. VEX Worlds was held earlier this year at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, KY.
2016 was a record-setting year for the VEX Worlds: They received the World’s Largest Robotics Competition award from Guinness World Records after a total of 1,075 teams from 30 different nations participated in this huge robotics tournament.
The annual competition presents students with a new game theme each year for the three different leagues- VEX IQ (ages 8-13), VRC (ages 14-18) and VEX-U (ages 18+). The goal is for students, from elementary school through college, to engage in hands-on challenges to foster their interests in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The teams spend time throughout the year designing, building, and programming their robots in order to compete in the local competition events.
The theme for the 2016 VEX Robotics Competition was called ‘Nothing But Net‘ and required the teams to design robots that could score points by shooting softball-sized balls into a goalie-style net. It was almost like robots competing in a slam dunk contest!
It was great to see the quality of the teams’ designs. Spoiler alert! If you’re going to watch tonight, then don’t read the following results. The three teams in the high school league that received the ‘Division Champions’ award were a team from Hefei, China, Brampton Robotics Education in Ontario, CA and Galveston ISD Robotics from Galveston, TX. A full list of the awards can be seen on their website.
VEX Worlds Sponsors include Dell, MathWorks, Helms Briscoe, New Bright, Microchip, Nissan, UPS, GE, University of Louisville, Toyota KY, Robot Arena III and Eaton Corporation. The global sponsors for the competitions are Northrop Grumman Foundation, Autodesk, Chevron, EMC Corporation, Harris, NASA, Texas Instruments, HEXBUG, Rack Solutions and IFI.
Tune in tonight to watch the event highlights and possibly your local team on national TV!
If you want your school or college to compete in the VEX competitions, note that the REC Foundation has a great Team Grants program to help you get started.