Robotics Comes to Palisades Elementary

By KAYLA RING | Junior Reporter

The large crowd of people was cheering as our team entered the field to start the robotics competition. I remember it was only one week ago that my team of seven first met to learn about the Vex IQ Challenge Next Level.

The Vex IQ Challenge Next Level is a competition for elementary students where school teams build and program robots to drive them around a field to pick up large orange cones called “hubs.” The goal is to put as many hubs into a section of the field called the “building zone.”

Palisades Elementary was recently given a grant to join 20 other teams, including Marquez Elementary, in the Vex IQ Challenge. Our team is made up of five fifth-graders and two fourth-graders who were picked to help pilot the program for next year.

We practice on Wednesdays and we have five competitions total for the year. My teacher, Mrs. Walker, is also our team coach.

Last Monday, Palisades Elementary went to their first ever competition. The week before going to the competition, we had only three days to build, program and learn to drive a robot we named Vexter. We had one day to learn and practice driving the robot because we spent two days building it.

I loved the challenge of building the robot because it was super fun and exciting to work together with other kids that love to do robotics too. When we got to Mark Twain Middle School, who hosted the competition, we were sent to a classroom to wait until we were called in to compete.

First came the practice rounds where two team members had 30 seconds each to drive the robot and collect hubs. Two school teams went at a time and we had one minute in total to get as many points as we could.

After the practice round finished, the first counting round began. In this round, Palisades Elementary scored eight points! When the second round started, I was going to be driving the robot for 30 seconds. As I was walking toward the robotic field, my heart was beating so fast you would think I wasn’t breathing.

At the end of the round, our team scored five points! It was also the very last match of the night. At the end of the three-hour competition, the announcer projected the scores onto the board. Palisades Elementary came in 11th out of 20!

Our team was so proud! I can’t wait for the next competition!