This summer I was asked to start a robotics club at our local middle school. The head of the region’s robotics was excited by the success our elementary school had in the Vex IQ league last season. I accepted the challenge with a lot of questions. Could we provide a similar environment for our middle school students? Was I up to the challenge of working with new robotics hardware? What are middle school students like (I don’t have any?)
Robotics Club Practice
Robotics club competition begins in two weeks! As students began to trickle in after school I felt the urgency to get them familiar with the Vex hardware quickly. Currently our robotics club has a very small inventory of Vex parts – four used claw bots (which we discovered are missing pieces) and one new claw bot. I chose three team captains based on their prior robotics experience and let the students choose their teams.
Once teams were formed, I gave the students a quick overview of what they would be doing during the practice and why getting a robot built quickly was essential. The teams got to work right away, and before I knew it were making great progress. After some building had taken place I had team captains choose team members to practice driving a claw bot I had assembled previously.
All of the teams did a great job with their initial experience building Vex robots. While we discovered we were missing some key parts, overall the robotics club students got a good feel for Vex robotics. One team was able to complete their robot and turn it on (5794C) only to discover the cortex (robot brain) they were using already had some code on it! The other teams should be done building quickly at our next practice.
Robotics Club Teams
The current robotics club teams for this year’s Vex season are as follows. Some changes may need to be made as more students arrive to the club (several students were out sick.) I was happy with the progress each of these teams made in one practice and can already sense which students like building the most.
- James O.
- Whitman S.
- Allison H.
- Owen H. – Captain
- Anthony R.
- Quinn G. – Captain
- John K.
- Dennis K.
- Gracie N. – Captain
- Hunter B.
- Isaac C.
Whats Next for the Robotics Club
Next week we will have practice on Monday and Thursday right after school. As teams complete their robots they will have a chance to practice driving and playing the game. The most ambitious teams will begin creating their own designs and strategies for this years game.
If you are looking to help your student make some progress, please have them review the rules for this years game, read up at the Vex forum, or take a look at some videos of teams that have already been competing in this year’s game.