RoboRunners 2016 season week eight was the highlight of the season so far. The fourth and fifth graders had their first league match, more practices, and what everyone had been preparing for… the Michigan state championship!
Team 1313 had a lot of fun this week, did a lot of traveling, and even won some awards. The most exciting news is that their performance in the state championship earned them a spot in the Vex IQ world championships!
RoboRunners at the Michigan State Championship
On Friday, the team made their way to Bloomfield Hills for the state championship. Team 1313 had the longest trip to make but everyone arrived safely and had an evening of fun before heading to bed at the hotel.
Most of the team had breakfast together. There was a tangible excitement in the air (in spite of a bunch of sleepyheads.) The kids were happy to see their new T-Shirts. A big thanks to Tammy R. for getting that done.
Robot Inspection, Driver Meeting, Day Begins
The parking at states was a little crazy but Roger R. helped out by dropping us off with the robot before having to park a couple miles away! We checked in and immediately headed to robot inspection. As expected, there were no issues with the robot.
The driver meeting was very fun to watch as so many young people listened intently to the referees while trying to contain their eagerness. Once that was over, the RoboRunners made their way to the Driver Skills area to get that done as quickly as possible before matches began.
Vex IQ Driver Skills Challenge involves one robot trying to score as many points as possible in one minute. Two team members must drive, switching at the midway points. Each team was only allowed two attempts at the championship.
RoboRunners had a good showing in Driver Skills. One round they put up an average score and the other they put up one of their better scores so far this year. I was happy they got driver skills done early as it is hard to squeeze them in between teamwork matches.
Teamwork Qualification Matches
The Teamwork Challenge portion of Vex IQ competition involves two robots working together for one minute to score as many points as possible. Robot matches are randomly generated so pairings are unknown until the event.
The RoboRunners had a total of eight qualification matches giving everyone a chance to drive twice. A couple of our “second drivers” drove three times since we have less kids who are confident in their “cleanup” skills.
Team 1313 had a solid day of qualification rounds and made it to the finals as the number two seed. I was very happy to see all the practice pay off.
One of the aspects of Vex IQ competition is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) presentation. The team must identify a question they want to answer, research it, and prepare a way to present it to the judges in four minutes, followed by six minutes of Q&A.
The three fifth graders on the team decided to compete in the STEM presentation two weeks ago and got to work. They were curious what the Curiosity Rover had discovered on Mars.
It was amazing to listen to all they discovered. I think the kids honestly enjoyed doing research and presenting on something they found interesting. I learned some in the process!
Programming Skills Challenge
The Vex IQ Programming Skills Challenge involves programming the robot to drive itself and score as many points as possible in one minute. Programming has been the RoboRunners strongest portion of the competition this year and is what got them invited to the championship.
RoboRunners had the highest programming score in Michigan going in to the championship and they improved on their own score at the event. Everyone let out a sigh of relief when the new program worked perfectly.
Team 1313 was the number two seed in the finals and got to pair up with the number one seed. They discussed strategy and waited to compete (the top two seeds go last.)
The team had the opportunity to pair up with one of the Bumblebee teams in the finals, so they were very excited. The Bumblebees are a well established Michigan team from Notre Dame Marist Academy. The alliance had a good run and scored a lot of points.
State Championship Results
When all the events had concluded, it was time for awards.
The only award that was for sure was the Teamwork Challenge – their alliance lost by two points and were the runner-ups.
There were some strong emotions going in, but the kids held it together as they waited to see how they had done in other portions of the championship.
All of their hard worked paid off! The RoboRunners are State Champions in Both Driver Skills and Programming Skills.
They were the only elementary team to win more then one award.
This qualifies them to compete in the World Championship event in April. The kids are thrilled to be “going to worlds” and finally are starting to believe they are a strong team.