According to Lenny Klompus, President of Friends of Hawaii Robotics, “Over 500 teams—6000 students— statewide are involved in one or more of nine robotics programs from elementary school through high school.”
More than 30 of those teams—over 100 students—competed at Island Pacific Academy in Kapolei as part of an exciting new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program with VEX IQ robots they built themselves. Students as young as eight years old were among the competitors with teams coming from all across Oahu and also from the Big Island and Molokai for the ALOHA VEX IQ State Qualifying Tournament. VEX IQ robots can be snapped together easily with gears, wheels, motors, and other parts from a standard kit. Each team has three members: two students who take turns driving the robot and one who acts as coach.
Finished VEX IQ robots vary in design and size but all have one purpose: the robots must be able to maneuver around a dining room table sized “field” during one‐minute matches. Using a controller, students must command or “drive” their robot and get it to pick up, dump or drop blue Bucky Balls into low and high goals, and then get their robot to “hang” from a bar.
Each ball, big or small, is worth points depending on which clear goal box, low or high, the robot can get it dumped into. Picking up a ball and stacking it onto a filling ring counts too and then there’s the all‐important “hang” at the end worth 8 points.
Ten of the teams that competed at the Kapolei Tournament qualified for the Hawaii VEX IQ State Championship which will be held at Pearlridge Center on February 16, 2014. Both of the VEX IQ teams from IPA have qualified for the State Championships. As many as 20 teams will compete there, with winning teams from the State Tournament advancing to the 2014 VEX Robotics World Championship VEX IQ Challenge Division in Anaheim, California, in April.
Mr. Weyland Bailey, IPA Robotics Instructor, says robotics is a terrific way to teach STEM subjects. “It’s great to see the kids having a fun time, working together, solving problems. They have such a good time cheering each other on, they forget they’re learning too! STEM can be fun!”
IPA Sixth grader Katie‐Lynn Chandler says, “I’m glad I joined the Robotics team because I like to build things and I am interested in technology. Even though Robotics takes a lot of time I like it because I have learned a lot.”
IPA senior Robyn Cabuslay, who has been involved for robotics for several years, is looking forward to the competition. “…this tournament was a good experience for all the participants. Since it was the first time that a tournament has been hosted at IPA, it allowed people to have a different experience to see this side of the island. Participating in Robotics has given me a basic understanding of what I will be studying college which is Computer Engineering.”
The ALOHA VEX IQ Tournament was presented by Friends of Hawaii Robotics with the support of Island Pacific Academy Navigator Robotics and Highland Intermediate School Robotics Club.