Seven BCPS schools show off robotics skills at world championships

Hereford Zone Robotics teams and teams from Patapsco and Chesapeake high schools

How does it feel to be among the best in the world at what you do?

Ask the Baltimore County Public Schools students who qualified for, competed in, and excelled at the 2015 Vex Robotics World Championships, held this year in Louisville, Kentucky on April 15-18. According to event organizers, 798 teams – from elementary school level through college level – participated from 27 countries. Teams played 10 matches over three days to try to qualify for playoffs. They also could do individual skills performances to compete in other categories.

BCPS was represented by teams from Sparks Elementary School, Hereford and Ridgely middle schools, and Chesapeake, Eastern Technical, Hereford, and Patapsco high schools. (Teams from Sparks Elementary and Hereford middle and high schools work together as members of the Hereford Zone Robotics Club.)

Hereford Zone Robotics teams

Patapsco High School teams

Eastern Tech robotics Team

Hereford Middle School teams 929C and 929D 

Hereford High School Team 929W

Eastern Tech robotics Team

“Just qualifying and competing at this level is amazing,” said Christopher Putnam, S.T.A.T. teacher at Hereford Middle School. “The BCPS student robotics teams have mastered discipline in teamwork, artistic skill, time management, stress management, and much more. It is truly STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] in action!”

In the VEX IQ elementary division, Sparks Elementary School Team 9290B finished 9th overall and 11th in programming skill. This is all the more impressive considering that the school just launched its first competitive VEX IQ Robotics Club this school year and that the only two elementary teams representing BCPS at the World Championships were both from Sparks Elementary.

“We emphasize STEM education in our curriculum, so it was rewarding to see the students use these skills in a real-life application to compete globally,” said Mrs. Crowley and Mrs. Ryan, Grade 5 teachers and team coaches at Sparks.
Sparks Principal Pam Oliver-Jones said, “We are extremely proud of how well our students performed during the competitions; but more importantly, that they were given the opportunity to compete on a global level and interact with students from China, Singapore, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States.  They were able to experience firsthand how similar students are across the globe.”

One of the teams from Hereford Middle School, Team 929D, finished 10th overall and 5th in programming skill in the VEX IQ middle school division. The judges also awarded the team with its Amaze Award, for creating an “amazing, well-rounded and top performing robot.”

At the high school level, Team 929W from Hereford High School made it to the semifinals of their division and were awarded the Create Award for their “creative engineering solutions.” Eastern Tech’s Team 5839A made it to the quarterfinals of the engineering division. This places Eastern Tech Robotics as a top 100 team in the world out of approximately 12,000 teams.

Here’s how Michael Dodd-O, technology education teacher at Hereford High School, described the experience of Team 929W, “It was an exciting couple of days for 929W (Joe Meseke, Will Fern, and Steven DiBerardino) competing against teams from Colombia, Bahrain, Dubai, Mexico, Canada, China, and New Zealand. After a strong showing during day one of the competition, 929W’s robot, Taurus 4, ran into difficulty successfully completing the autonomous portion of competition. Joe, Steven, and Will’s perseverance in diagnosing and successfully correcting the robot paid off on the third and final day of the competition. 929W was able to win their final two matches and prove that their robot was one of the top performers. This strong finish allowed them to be part of the fifth seed alliance for eliminations (playoffs).

After winning the division quarter finals, 929W faced off against the number one alliance led by a strong Chinese team. After being narrowly defeated 83-82 929W’s alliance were eliminated in the semifinals. Their finish placed them in the top 50 robotics teams in the world.”

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