Middle School News

Our First VEX IQ Robotics Tournament

The event was co-sponsored by Mid-Pacific and Tapiki, an innovative software company.

Posted on December 12, 2016 by Scot Allen

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Mid-Pacific hosted its first VEX IQ Robotics tournament on campus Saturday, Dec. 3. In total, there were 52 teams and more than 300 attendees. The Mid-Pacific event was a qualifier for the Vex IQ State Championships in February, 2017.

"Our inaugural tournament was a huge success, clearly putting Mid-Pacific on the robotics map," said Chief Innovation Officer Brian Dote. "We continue to elevate our position as a contributing member of the Hawaii robotics community. Our student competitors, volunteers, and ambassadors received many compliments on their performance both on and off the competition fields."

Please click here to view photographs of the event.

The alliance of Sacred Hearts and Maryknoll took top honors Saturday. While Mid-Pacific teams did not win any awards, three of the four teams did finish in the top 20, allowing them to move on to the finals. Mid-Pacific Owl Robotics Team 2932A ended up in third place at the end of the tournament, an amazing accomplishment given the high level of play, according to Dote.

Weyland Bailey, robotics team coach and teacher, said the quality of Mid-Pacific's first tournament held on campus says a lot about how the robotics team has grown. "The students here understand science, technology engineering and math (STEM) education and are ready to take it to the next level," he said. "Robotics provides a platform to test and share their love of STEM on campus, in the community and at the state, national and world levels."

The Mid-Pacific tournament was slightly larger than the typical VEX tournament with more than 50 teams participating. The competitions were held in Bakken Auditorium, which many visitors praised for its air conditioning and comfortable seating. Teams rested, ate and did repair work in Scudder Dining Hall. Next door in the Scudder Faculty Lounge, competitors and guests could visit a well-stocked concession stand to refuel. The Chew Technology Center was used for the STEM team interview portion of the event.

The Bakken stage held four competitive fields for all to see. Basically, each alliance of randomly chosen teams works together and strategizes the best way to move Hex Balls to designated points on the field. Each two-person team takes 30-second stints driving their robot. Near the end of the one-minute round, both teams cooperate to balance both robots on a tilting bridge for maximum points.

"Our volunteers, staff, and robotics teachers/advisors deserve accolades for this event," Dote said. "Less than a year ago, a tournament at Mid-Pacific wasn't even a remote possibility. In a short period of time, our robotics program has grown to include cohesive elementary, middle, and high school programs with six competitive teams competing both on-island and off-island."

Both Dote and Bailey noted that many parents have commented on positive changes in their children. Some are going from quiet and shy students, to leaders and mentors. Others are showing positive changes in their critical thinking and collaboration skills. "Robotics is giving these students a safe place to compete," Dote said. "When they win, they are learning to win as members of a team. When they lose, they're learning to lose with humility."

In a very real way, students appreciate how each match is a learning opportunity that improves not only their robot, but, ultimately, themselves.