MCSD Whiteboard: Sandrock’s Cosmic Coders robotics team headed to Worlds in Dallas
Three young women from Sandrock Elementary are bound for Texas to compete in the World Tournament for robotics.
The Cosmic Coders, made up of Annie Woodworth, Oaklyn Miles and Emersyn Johnston, will be on the way to Dallas for the tournament beginning May 1 after qualifying to compete there at the state tournament March 11.
The girls qualified for the event in Dallas based on their skills in coding. While some teams qualify based on a teamwork challenge, which involves piloting a self-built robot through a series of physical and technical challenges, Woodworth, Miles and Emersyn were able to achieve the opportunity based on pre-coded instructions for their robot.
The elementary school teams from Moffat County School District began practice in November under the guidance of Ty and Rebecca Kuberry, elementary teachers in Moffat County.
“(Robotics) is a lot about being resilient and not giving up,” said Ty Kuberry. “The robots don’t always work the first or second time. So they have to keep rebuilding, engineering, modifying and trying to figure out what will be best. They can’t just give up.”
MCSD’s elementary schools use Project Lead The Way curriculum, and the Project Lead the Way Teachers — Ty Kuberry is one — have access to VEX IQ robotics kits with which they are able to start robotics teams. MCSD has had elementary robotics teams for about five years now. The middle and high school also have teams.
“I talked to our teams, and told them, you know, only so many teams get to go (to Worlds) based on the teamwork challenge,” Kuberry said. “But you can go based on the interview, on your engineering notebook, and on coding. They all did those things, practiced them all, worked hard on them all.”
The competition involves building the robot and preparing it, one way or another, to accomplish tasks like, in this year’s case, collecting 3.5-inch discs and shooting them under a bar, hockey style, to score points.
Coding, Kuberry said, requires foresight and planning, not to mention mastery of the technical specs and capabilities of the robot.
“It’s a lot like teamwork, except they start the robot in a specific spot and code it to work autonomously,” he said. “The computer or iPad tells it where to go, move, how to score points, all without touching the robot.”
For Kuberry, who’s led the teams, starting with Sandrock, for all five years with Rebecca, the opportunity for the kids to participate in these events is exciting.
“I think it’s a great program,” he said. “Kids work hard. We’ve been working on it since November; it’s not just a six-week thing or something. Kids come in at lunch, before school, after school, on days we don’t have practice, and they even take the robots home. They’re really dedicated.”
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