Robots battle Saturday at Kearney VEX tournament

January 28, 2015

Kearney, Neb. – With team names like “Nuts and Bolts”, “Gonna Need a Bigger Bot”, and “Roboom”, a unique competition will be staged this Saturday in Kearney.

The Kearney High School VEX tournament will be conducted Saturday at Sunrise Middle School, 4611 Avenue N in Kearney, beginning at 11 a.m. The tournament involves the use of student-created robots in a competition setting. The event is being hosted by the Nebraska Public Power District and is free and open to the public. Awards will be given to teams in various categories that include tournament champion, tournament finalist, and special awards for excellence, programming skills, robot skills, design, and sportsmanship.

The VEX Robotics Program is a competitive academic activity designed to inspire students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Teams are tasked with a new challenge each year and must analyze, design, build, program and test their robots in relation to a game-based engineering challenge. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test on the playing field as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communication, problem solving, and more. From November through February, teams compete in tournaments to hopefully qualify for a spot at state, nationals and world competitions.

A total of 30 teams, representing Ravenna Public Schools, Crete High School, Omaha North Magnet School, Chase County Schools, Cross County Schools, Millard North, Norfolk, Lakeview, Grand Island, and Kearney high schools are scheduled to compete Saturday.

This year’s challenge, VEX Skyrise, is played on a 12-foot by 12-foot square field. Two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period, followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring with colored cubes in floor goals, on posts or on Skyrise, by owning posts, and by building Skyrise sections.

“In addition to just having a great time and building amazing robots, this program helps students learn and understand the engineering, technical and programming skills needed in building a robot, plus develop teamwork skills, leadership and sportsmanship,” explained NPPD Outreach Programs Specialist Kim Liebig. “NPPD’s interest in sponsoring an event such as VEX Robotics is that we support the program’s education of engineering principles, since we employ engineers of various disciplines – from mechanical to nuclear engineering.”

While participating in the VEX Skyrise season, teams develop new skills in response to the challenges and obstacles that stand before them. Some problems will be solved by individuals, while others will be handled through interaction with their student teammates and adult mentors.

Earlier in the school year, teams first worked together to build a VEX robot to compete in one of many tournaments like the one being staged in Kearney. After the season is completed later this spring, students come away not only with the accomplishment of building their own competition robot, but also with an appreciation of science and technology and how they positively impact the world around them.

Competing teams Saturday will be attempting to qualify for the Nebraska State Championship to be staged in Stromsburg in February and for the U.S. Open Championship to be held at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, April 7-9. Winning qualifiers from the U.S. Open Championship will go on to the VEX Robotics World Competition to be held in Louisville, Ky. April 15-18 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

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