Area students compete in VEX IQ robotic competition

Mon Mar 6, 2017 at 11:16 AM

In two hours, with simple snap together parts, a robot can come to life.  It’s called a VEX IQ starter kit and that’s what has captured the interest of middle school students from around the area.

Northark has hosted the BEST Robotics competition annually since 2006 and is well-known as the regional hub.  BEST is a national organization that establishes a competition game for upper middle and high school age students.  It requires the students to design and build a robot to compete in a unique game each year.  Last year the Northark BEST hub hosted 19 teams, some from area schools and a few from Missouri.

To attract younger students and better prepare them to compete in the BEST program, last summer Northark offered a unique camp program using a simpler, snap-together, robot kit system called VEX IQ. The VEX IQ system is used in formal competitions at regional, state, and national levels. The camp was very well received.

Because of the camp’s success, the Regional Workforce Grant funded the purchase of more VEX IQ kits and game field systems for area elementary and middle schools.  A scrimmage competition targeting grades 3 through 7 was scheduled.  The local scrimmage provided students with an opportunity to compete against students from other schools and to demonstrate their unique design and programming talents. 

A total of 15 local teams competed on Saturday, Feb. 11.  Over 200 people composed of excited youth, teachers and parents filled the Durand Center.  Northark volunteers ran a series of matches for the students to compete on the regulation VEX IQ game field.  Each team was assigned a pit table to use for testing and modifications to their machines. Area schools sent multiple teams to compete.  They included six teams from Alpena, three from Harrison, and one each from Valley Springs, Omaha, Western Grove, St. Joe, Bruno-Pyatt and Flippin. 

A unique teamwork experience happened when the teams competed with a randomly selected second alliance team and both teams worked together to score points for that match. 

The event concluded with award presentations for the top scoring teams for the day.

Omaha VEX team

Omaha Team #1 — Sportsmanship

Harrison team 12

Harrison Team #12 — Build

Valley Springs team

Valley Springs Team #2 — Design

team award

Flippin Team #15 — Create

Harrison team 14

Harrison Team #14 — Think (Programming)

Alpena

Alpena Team #8 — Judges Choice

Harrison robot team

Harrison Team #12 — Robot Skills 2nd

Valley Springs

Valley Springs Team #2 — Robot Skills 1st

VEX team

Alpena Team #4 — Teamwork Challenge 2nd

Alpena team

Alpena Team #5 — Teamwork Challenge 1st

Flippin team

Flippin Team #15 — Excellence

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