I was asked to coach my school’s robotics team this year and it has been an amazing experience, both for me and, especially, for my students. It all starts with STEM or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, (Art), and Math), which provides students with opportunities to explore their worlds through the eyes and thinking of scientists. Many schools offer Project Lead The Way (PLTW) courses such as design and modeling, automation and robotics, medical detectives, green architecture, flight and space, computer science and much more. Their courses are aligned for all K-12 grades and many universities offer guaranteed admission to their schools of engineering if students complete a PLTW course in high school. Partnered with PLTW is VEX Robotics, who makes all the components for the automation and robotics course. They also partner with industries like Chevron to provide robotics competitions, which allows students to use knowledge gained in their PLTW course in an engaging, real-world, application. The competitions start with county-level tournaments and progress to state and then to worlds.
I coached two teams and both made it to the county finals; Team B was eliminated in the semi-finals and Team A lost in the finals. This was the first time all of my students competed in an event like this and it was their first time to build a robot. They came to me barely knowing how to put a nut on a bolt, but with perseverance and practice, they created two very successful robots.
Here are some pictures from the finals tournament.