Robotics tournament a showcase for students’ skills

Vex Robotics Tournament. Photo by Kasherah Reynolds

Enthusiastic middle and high school students filled the Lawson Center on Saturday eager to showcase their tech-savvy talents.

 They came for Tallahassee Robotics Association’s 4th annual action-packed VEX Robotics Tournament.

 The tower takeover sponsored by the FAMU School of Architecture and Engineering Technology and the College of Education consisted of students, teachers and family watching the riveting tournament unfold.

The Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation presented the VEX Robotics Competition embodied with student teams given the task to construct a robot uniquely designed to compete against other teams in a challenging engineering tournament. STEM concepts are used to further their skills and gain leadership and communication expertise among each other. 

Marianna High School, Deerlake Middle School and Chiles High School were just a few of the many schools competing in the tournament. 

Kathleen Malloy, an instructional technology developer with Leon County Schools, conveyed her endearment for opportunities given to students to become innovative and further their skills as they grow older with technology. 

“This is what we need,” Malloy said. “These are the kids who are going to solve our world’s problems through technology. They’re controlling the robots and they must write programs that allow them to grab, pick up, carry and deposit. It’s really quite evolved.” 

Malloy was a teacher for many years at Godby High School where her fascination and love for STEM developed. 

Jane McDonald, event partner and president of the Tallahassee Robotics Association, said this event is successful because of the many volunteers involved who free up their time to help the younger children exhibit their creations. 

“I’ve been hosting the event for five years and it has been four years at FAMU. I was a teacher at Rickards High School and my kids wanted to do robots. I started giving them opportunities to do it, so I started hosting the events,” said McDonald. “The event is put on totally by volunteers.”

Dennis Jiang, a senior at Chiles High, demonstrated his team’s technique in order to have an efficient robot to compete.

“First thing we did was plan out everything. We made up a design of what we wanted the base to be and how large. We also have omni wheels so we can turn more efficiently, and we put hinges in order to push the trays in and out,” Jiang said.  “Last time we built the entire robot in a span of about two weeks.”

Jiang and his team made it to the semifinals before getting knocked out by Marianna High School with a score of 45-37. 

In the final round, things began to heat up as Marianna High and the Bangarang Robotics Team had it out in an intense session resulting in Bangarang winning the tournament with a score of 26-19.

Rodner Wright, dean of FAMU’s School of Architecture and Engineering Technology, expressed his gratitude for such an elevating event for the future of our youth.

“At FAMU, the School of Architecture and Engineering Technology, the College of Education and many other STEM and nationally ranked programs focus on stimulating talents of young people and guiding them into successfully accomplishing their dreams,” Wright said. 

“I would like each one of you to leave here today with the knowledge that you all are all winners because you are willing to try something new and exciting and it is the willingness that will always help you reach and exceed your goals.”