Battle of Minds and Skills

 It was a battle of the minds and engineering skills at Princeton Middle school as 32 teams from southern West Virginia and Virginia face off in the 2nd annual Regional Vex IQ Robotics Competition for Southern West Virginia, Saturday.

PRINCETON — Students gathered to show their engineering abilities and compete in the second annual regional VEX IQ Robotics Competition at Princeton Middle School, on Saturday.

Scheduled to compete in the challenges were 34 robotics teams. These teams ranged from late elementary school to middle school age, though the younger and older students were competing separately. The winner of this competition will move on to the statewide competition.

“There are different types of competitions that people compete with our’s is the VEX IQ,” Mercer Elementary School principal, Kelli Stanley, said.

The VEX IQ robotics type is specialized for students ranging from fourth to eighth grade according to the VEX IQ website. The curriculum in this program allows students to design and create their own robots from start to finish.

At the competition, teams had to complete a variety of tasks that tried a variety of skills. Skills that were tested were technological, engineering, team building and more.

“They have to do strategy, they have to work together, they have teams that are getting upset with each other but they’ve got to work through that,” Stanley said.

According to Stanley, the competition allows students to learn vital lessons of communication and strong work ethics. The competition also consists of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.

“Most of these teams meet before or after school with teachers and they build these robots from nothing. They have a field that they compete on that has different kinds of obstacles to get points,” Stanley said.

Teams competed a plethora of tasks throughout the competition, all points earned were averaged to determine who was on top, according to Stanley.

“They’re also being judged on their engineering notebook on their process of how they got where they are and the design of their robot. Every robot is different because they can design it with restrictions of the parts and the sizes of how they want to do the task,” Stanley said.

The process to build a robot creation involves coding, or programming the robot’s computer to complete a set task. Depending on the codes they create and program into the robots the student’s creations will perform differently.

“This has problem-solving, thinking through things, the building the understanding of it all of that is just a life skill. That’s what we know that the future holds for our kids when it comes to jobs,” Stanley said.

Taking home the excellence award was given to The Robotic Bees: Honey Bees group from Andrews Heights Elementary School in Tornado, W. Va. The Robotic Bees: The Swarm team took home a Teamwork Champion award.

Other awards given include a second Teamwork Champion award to Mercer 2, two 2nd place Teamwork awards to Mercer 2 and Melrose 3, two 3rd place Teamwork awards to The Robotics Bees: Honey Bees and Narrows Robotics Team, Robot Skills Champion to the Robotic Bees: Honey Bees, Design Award to the Robotic Bees: Royal Family and the Judge’s Award to Macy McClaugherty Robotics Team.

— Contact Emily D. Coppola at ecoppola@bdtonline.com

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