Robotics competition descends on Stromsburg

January 30, 2012

Stromsburg, Neb. – A unique event with unusual competitors will be on display this Saturday, February 4, in Stromsburg. The competitors will be robots – guided in their actions by student teams.

Student teams from several Nebraska and Colorado high schools and middle schools will be competing in the Cross County VEX Robotics Tournament Saturday at Cross County High School. Competitions of this type have taken place since 2006 and have evolved into national and world competitions.

The Cross County competition is being sponsored by Central Community College-Hastings campus and Nebraska Public Power District. The event, to be held at the Cross County Community Schools, 1270 123rd Road in Stromsburg, begins at 11 a.m. and will be completed around 5 p.m.

As of early this week, 24 teams had registered for this unique competition.  Teams entered from Nebraska represent Crete, Holdrege, Grand Island, Waverly, Mount Michael, St. Patrick’s Catholic School, Ravenna, Chase County, Cross County, and Aurora, plus a team from Berthoud, Colorado.

Student teams build and program robots to meet the game challenges that VEX Robotics create each year, with the game challenge this season being VEX Gateway.  Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, aim to build the most innovative robots possible and work together to obtain the most points possible by scoring (or de-scoring) points using barrels, balls and gates.

VEX Gateway is played on a 12 foot by 12 foot square field with two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, competing in matches consisting of a twenty-second autonomous period followed by two minutes of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than an opponent alliance by scoring barrels and balls in goals, earning bonus points and doubling or negating goals.

The top team in the competition will qualify for the U.S. National VEX Robotics Championship to be held in Omaha in March 2012, and for the VEX Robotics World Competition to be held in Anaheim, Calif., in April of 2012. For the Cross County competition, awards will be given to teams for various categories that include the tournament champion, tournament finalist, and special awards for excellence, sportsmanship, and design.

“In addition to just having a great time and building amazing robots, this program helps develop students learn engineering, technical and programming skills needed in of building a robot, plus develop teamwork skills, leadership and sportsmanship,” explained NPPD Outreach Programs Specialist Kim Liebig.

NPPD and Central Community College-Hastings campus have joined together to harness the power of competitive robotics to engage students and promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to ensure a skilled workforce for Nebraska.