Our final robotics practice of the current Vex IQ robotics session was very reflective and somewhat bittersweet for me. After the Black Mambas and Winners elected their team spokesperson for the week we had a discussion and review of the season. Both teams were happy with how they have improved over the course of the session. They each mentioned that driving was much easier now then when they began.
Robotics Club Practice
We continued our discussion with the topic of what parts of the robotics club the kids enjoyed most. Each student had a chance to speak. I was quite surprised that the majority of the kids really enjoy the design/engineering portion of robotics the most. Some of the kids who didn’t seem to participate as much in those exercises as much even said it, which means they were paying attention more then I thought!
Another area that the kids enjoyed to a lesser extent was the driving of the robot. They thought it was fun but not as enjoyable as designing. A few of the students mentioned that it was difficult to drive. Our teams also enjoyed something that goes along with driving – the competitions themselves. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the competitions I wonder how much fun the teams are having so it was nice to hear that it was a source of enjoyment.
Next we reviewed the teamwork and skills challenge portions of the competitions. Those who have had a chance to participate in the skills (single robot) challenges really enjoyed it. They liked not having to dodge another robot on the field. Their scores for the skills challenge were solid but I think would improve with more practice. All of the students enjoy the teamwork (dual robot) challenges.
We wrapped up our discussion with me telling the students about some of the top teams in the country. I also asked them to guess what strategies those teams use. It was fun to listen to their ideas and challenge some of their current assumptions. I even let the kids in on what I thought a good strategy was and how I would go about building the robot to accomplish that strategy.
Driving, Driving, Driving
We spent the rest of the practice with driving of the robots. We had mock matches of both the teamwork and driving challenges. The students did really well, scoring near the maximum their designs could score each time. It was really great to see just how far they have come in such a short amount of time. Each time they ran a match they were required to reset the field themselves. We also worked more on them having their robots on the field and ready to go without assistance from me or the other parents.
Final Session Practice Thoughts
Thank you to all parents and students who participated in this session. I really enjoyed the growth of the robotics team and getting to spend some time getting to know your young minds. With the changes to the Vex IQ program (move to LEAP) I am not sure how many of you I will be seeing again as a coach. For those I will be coaching again I hope to resume practice again after a two week break. In the upcoming session I hope to cover some new topics such as programming and advanced designs. Our final match of the session is this week and I hope to see you all there!