MCSD elementary students compete in Western Slope Rise Above Vex IQ competition |

MCSD elementary students compete in Western Slope Rise Above Vex IQ competition

Students from Ridgeview and Sandrock competed against teams from around the country

Ridgeview students Curtis Kuberry and Yahir Duarte listen to the judges in front of the robotics board in their classroom. (Courtesy Photo)

Through robotics, a handful of Ridgeview and Sandrock Elementary students connected with students across the country and around the world Friday in the Rise Above Vex IQ competition.

As part of the Project Lead the Way, Ridgeview Elementary’s fifth-grade class had five students participating in Friday’s competition, including Curtis Kuberry, Yahir Duarte, Nate Steele, Mel Chamberlain and Logan Miller. The students were separated into two teams, known as Triple Threat and the Shark Hunters.

Team Triple Threat was made up of Kuberry and Duarte, while Steele, Chamberlain and Miller made up the Shark Hunters. The competition was supervised by the three Project Lead the Way teachers in Allison LeWarne, Ty Kuberry and Rhonda Counts. Ridgeview elementary school had a total of three teams participating, and Sandrock elementary school had three of their own teams.

Sandrock’s teams were made up of fourth and fifth graders. The fourth grade had two teams in the Bulldog Botics and the Braniacs, while the fifth grade had one team called the Code Breakers. The Bulldog Botis were made up of Teagan Siminoe, Evan Torres, and Dylon Reno. The Brainiacs were made up of Bella Bergstrom, Kolby Smith, Avenly Lowe, and Diego Garcia. The sole fifth grade team to compete in the competition was made up of Josie Terry, Carson Haskins, Ari White and Koda More.

Friday’s competition saw 13 teams participate, including teams from California, Washington, Virginia, Florida, Arizona, and even Russia. The six teams from Moffat County School District did not place in the top three in this competition.

For the competition, students had to construct robots as a team without help from the teachers, except for the occasional motivational word. The competition was judged by two Vex IQ-certified referees, and Counts timed the students giving the teams a minute for each challenge.

The goal of the competition was to stack blue towers on top of each other. If the team completed a row of towers it was worth 30 points. The teams also had to switch which team member was controlling the robot at the 30-second mark of each challenge.

The teams enjoy the spontaneity of building the robots for these competitions.

“You really don’t know what you’re going to do until you do it,” Kuberry said. “It’s because, with the new challenge, when you finally get your robot changed to fit the new challenge then you’re pretty happy with it and proud of it.”

The students also enjoy the rush that stacking the pieces on top of one another successfully gives them.

The robots have license plates and omni-directional wheels that can go 360 degrees, which allows them increased freedom to move, according to Counts. They also had to measure their robot, make sure that the controller could properly communicate with the robot, let the judges know how many motors they have, and how many battery packs they have.

While building the robots doesn’t take very long, the students said they spend a lot of time in the editing and fixing process that goes into making the robots competition-ready.

The Project Lead the Way program is used throughout the Moffat County School District, which allows the students to continue this process as they enter sixth grade in the fall. When asked if they will continue into middle school, the students responded with a resounding yes.

“I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. Any type of engineer you can think about, I’ve thought about,” Steele said.

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