Student-led robotics teams from the Richmond region had their biggest showing ever at the recent 2017 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
Nine Richmond area teams competed against hundreds of teams from around the world. Two of the five local high school teams – Semiconductors and Twisted Botz — made it to their division finals, and all the middle school and elementary teams made it to their division playoffs.
Teams from the Richmond area make up just 5% of all VEX teams in Virginia, but accounted for 25% of the Virginia teams that competed at the VEX Robotics World Championship and 85% of those that made it to their division playoffs. Two high school teams and one elementary team also finished among the world’s top 25 in the Robot Skills category, with the elementary team, Soaring Eagles from Glen Allen, finishing third.
“Interest in robotics as a teaching tool has been increasing steadily in the Richmond region, and this strong showing at Worlds indicates just how competitive our local teams are,” says Mike Hallock-Solomon, one of the founders of RVA Robotics, a nonprofit that helps schools and parents establish teams locally.
VEX Robotics is a hands-on program that teaches students of all ages to design, build and program their own robots using pre-fabricated components. Some of the teams are organized by schools, while others are organized independently by families. Students typically work on their robots over the course of six to nine months, with local and regional competitions beginning in the fall.
The VEX Robotics World Championship, held every spring, is the world’s largest robotics competition and is organized through the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation. VEX robotics competitions are the fastest growing competitive robotics programs for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges around the world, with nearly 18,000 teams from over 40 countries. Teams qualify for the World Championship based on their performance at state and regional championships. This years’ Virginia State Championship was held February 17-18 at Meadow Event Park in Doswell.