The Competitive Robotics program offers students in Grades 5-8 the opportunity to learn the principles of robotics while working toward collaborative competition. The program meets four days per week (M, T, Th, F) in the after school time period, alongside Park’s Athletics, Drama, and other Enrichment programming. Students have the opportunity to join this program for a two-season commitment (fall and winter), with the possibility of championship competition in the spring term.
This program offers students a chance to work in a team environment that highlights non-athletic skills. It’s just one of the many ways Park encourages students to pursue their curiosity, find joy in learning, competition, and in collaboration with their peers. Like Drama and Athletics, Robotics is offered at no cost to participating families.
Participants learn engineering principles, such as gear ratios, drive trains, and other aspects of mechanical engineering in order to build and operate their own robot. Each year, Vex IQ (vexrobotics.com/iq) sets a theme for the year’s challenge, and students work to build robots that will succeed in competition defined by that year’s challenge. In 2022-23, for example, the theme is “Slapshot,” and students will build robots that are programmed to retrieve and shoot pucks across a field of play.
Competition is based both on skills and teamwork. Two teams – frequently from different schools – work together in collaboration toward a common goal. Each participant must also have the ability to program their robot individually to perform all the functions involved in competition.
Park currently sponsors three teams. Each team has students performing the roles of drivers, engineers, and programmers. Students build and iterate in order to troubleshoot, experiment, and find the best technique for their robot.
2022-23 is Park’s first year participating in this program. All the students are just beginning their robotics journey. In the fall term, most time is devoted to learning the engineering process. Students journal their process in order to capture the goals and problem solving. As the year progresses, the teams will compete in local events in hopes of eventually reaching state and national level competition.