While many high school students spend their weekends sleeping or catching up on the latest video game releases, those competing at the 2014 VEX Robotics Competition World Championships in Anaheim, Calif. April 23-26 are putting their love of STEM –science, technology, engineering and math– to the test in dynamic fashion. Yahoo caught up with VEX Robotics President Paul Copioli and student competitor Amik Khamken on April 25 to talk about the competition.
According to Copioli, the season began with 10,000 teams worldwide representing 33 different countries. The top 750 teams, comprised of 15,000 students from 27 countries, advanced safely to the World Championships. By competition’s end, winners will be crowned in elementary, middle school, high school and university divisions.
Copioli offered up details as to how the event proceeds, explaining that every single team in Anaheim had been challenged at the beginning of the season to design and build a robot to play a specific game. During the tournament, the robots “play head to head, two robots versus two robots,” with a final objective of scoring the most points. On April 26, the highest-scoring teams will go head to head to decide the divisional winners.
Brewbaker Tech student Khamken’s interest in robotics dates back to his early childhood years, when he liked to “tinker with mechanisms” and take apart remote control cars to see how they worked. He said he’d learned quite a bit by working with robotics, including the value of avoiding procrastination and the importance of working carefully to avoid errors.
Although robotics and STEM-based activities are often dismissed by the general public as “boring” or dry, Copioli insisted the opposite to be true, noting that visitors to the World Championship are often struck by the competition’s exciting atmosphere. In fact, he likened it to “a sporting event” rather than a “science fair.”
To start a robotics club at your school, visit robotevents.com or vex.com for information and guidance.