This last weekend, the Google Lunar X PRIZE had the opportunity to partake in one of the many qualifying VEX Robotics Competitions being held this month for teams to earn a place at the national competition in Orlando, Florida. When one of our partners- Beach Cities Robotics (the host of this competition) asked us if we could act as judges, we were thrilled. It is always a great amount of fun to see robotics programs engage youth in all facets of STEM education.
It was quite an experience to learn all of the rules of the competition and the technical tasks the teams are required to complete. We had to interview individual teams throughout the day and determine the top ranked teams for awards in fields like technical, innovative, cooperative, community and excellence.
Youth shared many experiences of being involved in the VEX Robotics program at their high school. One team told us how they had to plead with their school board to not cancel the robotics program because the school is primarily known for being a fine arts school and had limited funding for other programs. Good news- STEM Education prevailed! Other teams shared stories about community service they had completed with junior high level youth and how hands on projects are the best way to motivate younger youth to explore STEM education. Last, many teams took the opportunity to really show us the mastery of creating an innovative robot through experimental designs. At the end of the day, we were happy to be included with the seven other judges in the announcement of the winners.
We were also happy to roll out our very own Google Lunar X PRIZE “Rovy” the Robot to the audience at the Closing Ceremony. For the past four months, Beach Cities Robotics- World FIRST Champion has been working on ROVY. Although Rovy is not completely fixed, it was fun to see Rovy rove around the Hawthorne High School Arena.
Thank you to Beach Cities for all of your hard work so far on ROVY, and a BIG thank you to VEX Robotics Competition Leadership!