Mansfield News

Middle school robotics teams advance to state

Rogene Worley Middle School has four robotics teams headed to state competition in April hosted by the Texas Computer Education Association.
Rogene Worley Middle School has four robotics teams headed to state competition in April hosted by the Texas Computer Education Association. lwinter@star-telegram.com

Advances in technology tomorrow could come as the result of seeds planted today in the classrooms at Mansfield ISD.

Nowhere can you see better evidence of that than at Rogene Worley Middle School where four robotics teams are headed to state competition in April hosted by the Texas Computer Education Association - (TCEA).

Known as the Worley Robo Tigers team, totaling 21 students, had to place first or second in two main categories — Arena and Invention, to qualify.

"We're extremely proud of each of the students' hard work and dedication," said Ashley Owens, robotics club sponsor for the last two years at Worley Middle School. "It was a team effort. The parental support and support from our administrators was a huge part of the students' success."

Owens, along with her co-sponsor Jennifer Walker, broke down the two categories of competition.

"Arena teams prepare for the contest by building a robot using a Lego EV3 kit. They are prescribed a problem with a set of challenges, rules, and specifications designed around a theme," Owens said. "Each team has to work together to program their robot's to perform the specific tasks assigned."

She said the Arena teams compete in three, two-minute rounds before a judge.

"The second category - Inventions - students have to follow the engineering design process to create a robot that solves a real-world problem," she said. "The Inventions teams have to keep a logbook and prepare a six-minute presentation for the judges; students showcase their research, robot, performance, robot design, marketing strategies and presentation skills for the judges. The teams solve a problem of their choice and approach their problem as real engineers would working together."

If the teams succeed in April, they will advance to a national competition over the summer.

Owens said the goal is for students to continue the pursuit of robotics as they move on in their education.

"Most students in robotics have a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and there are many opportunities at the high school level to continue practicing their skills in programming and inventing," she said. "These students are our future engineers and scientists, and we are providing a safe space for these students to think freely and put their ideas into action."

Owens said robotics is vital because it allows students with a similar passion for STEM to come together and collaborate and to create amazing designs and put their ideas into play.

"These students are focused, dedicated, and determined," Owens said. "I have seen them brainstorm to solve problems and celebrate their victories as a team. Each team member has a vital role and communication is essential in the design process and execution of programs."

Lance Winter: 817-390-7274

Twitter: @LanceWinter

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