Article by: Liz Rayment, President of Action Works
The Thompson Robotics EXPO is the state’s premier multi- platform all inclusive explosion of robots made by students. Since 2007, the Thompson School District has hosted the event each Fall. Since the event includes tech exhibits and all things geek, moving it to the NoCo Mini Maker Faire is a natural fit.
This year’s EXPO is adding another platform to make 3 official competitions for students in grades 3 – 12. The new VEX IQ game, Add it UP, is an exciting robotics platform for the younger crowd, joining with FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) as an option for elementary and middle school students. VEX Robotics Competition (V RC) is a middle school and high school program with serious head to head competition in the VEX Toss Up game. As in years past, a FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) will wow the crowd with their robot from last season.
This year’s FLL theme is NATURE’S FURY℠. Students in grades 3-8 will explore intense natural disasters such as storms, quakes, and waves through building an autonomous robot to solve “missions” all built out of LEGO. Student will also optionally complete and submit a video of their research project. The game rules are not release until early September, giving students barely a month before the Maker Faire. Since it will be one of the first FLL events in the state, work is underway to include a “rookie booster” with the EXPO to help get new teams up to speed. FLL Qualifiers for the FLL Colorado Championship are held at various locations around the state through mid-December.
The VEX programs, VRC and VEX IQ, are all year long starting with the game release at the VEX World Competition in April and culminating at the following year’s World event. The long season gives students time to experience the Engineering Design Process. The VRC game this year is VEX Toss Up. Students design and build robots, smaller than 18”x18”x18”, operated in driver and autonomous modes on a 12’x12’ field. The game is played with 2 alliances of 2 or 3 teams each.
VEX IQ, just piloted last season for elementary and middle school students, will join the competitions. Each year VEX IQ will have a theme from one of the letters in STEM. This year the theme is math and the game is Add it Up.
Thanks to donations to Action Works from companies like Woodward, Western Digital, Seagate and people who donate directly or through United Way, students in grades 3-12 have equipment to participate in these and other STEM activities . You can find more information on the robotics programs at www.firstlegoleague.org and www.roboticseducation.org .
About Action Works
Action Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that runs robotics events and other STEM programs. You can find more information atwww.action-works.org. No experience necessary to volunteer!
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