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Posted: February 29, 2020

Garfield MS Hosts District's First VEX Robotics State Championship

Winning teams from La Cueva and Cibola qualified for the 2020 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, KY, in April.

Championship Robotics Team from La Cueva HS

Championship Robotics Team from La Cueva HS

On the extra day in February, 45 teams of middle and high school students from across the state took part in the 2020 New Mexico VEX Robotics VRC State Championships hosted by Garfield STEM Middle School. 

Adrenaline was high and hearts were pumping as, after months and months of hard work that included nights and weekends, students were finally able to put their robots to the test.

The amount of detail that goes into preparing for a robotics competition would be a challenge for most adults, but these students made it happen with support from their team, a collaborative spirit, dedicated teachers and coaches, excited parents… and lots and lots of snacks.

Garfield teacher Chaushie Forster, who has been working for years to create more opportunities for students to participate in robotics, was proud to bring the state championships to his home turf.

“Hosting the state championship was an amazing experience," he said, adding special thanks to Sandia National Laboratories, UNM, and Garfield STEM for providing so many volunteers. "The students, coaches, and volunteers came together to make the event truly something special."

The competitive robotics experience exemplifies all of the components of the Engineering Habits of Mind, including visualization, systems thinking, problem finding, problem-solving, improving, adapting, to create iteratively-tested robots. Students use the design process as an organizational structure and document all of their work inside engineering notebooks. 

This was the first year an APS school hosted the VEX Robotics State Competition. "Building upon the success of this competition we are hoping that more APS schools will get involved in creating teams and hosting events,” Forster said.

The Winners

  • La Cueva High School became the tournament champions and also took home the Excellence Award for High School and the Robot Skills Champion Award.
  • The Excellence Award for middle school went to Heavy Metal, a team of home schooled students.
  • The Judges Award went home with the Schools of Dream Academy from Los Lunas. 
  • Cibola High School won the Design Award.

 "Winning the design award is the justification for the countless hours of time the students have spent together demonstrating and organizing their professional engineering approach," said Cibola sponsor Brian Acquesta.  
"This award was presented to the Cibola High School Robotics team by professionals in the fields of engineering, mathematics and applied sciences. It shows that the students developed a clear, and complete documentation of the design process, project management, time management and team organization.”

Competitive robotics was just launched at La Cueva last fall.Teacher Yolanda Lozano said, "It has been an incredible rookie year for the La Cueva Robotics team. I never thought we would take first or second place! When we started the club I thought we would have seven or eight students interested. Now we have 38 students and three teams. Next year we will probably have more competitive teams."

Abel Abeita, a STEM Implementation Coach with the APS Office of Innovation, was on hand to help with the competition and discuss why it is important to have robotics in all grade levels with teachers, coaches and students working together. “Vex IQ Robotics Competitions are so exciting to see, no matter if it’s elementary school, middle school, or high school students. Students design, build, and code amazing robots. The students become very engaged in the team competitions and produce high quality engineering solutions to complete the robotic competition challenges," Abeita said. 

He added that schools across the world compete in Vex IQ competitions and students thrive knowing they are up against kids their same age building and programming robots. "Technical expertise and old-fashioned team work contribute to the learning experiences of students participating on a Vex IQ Robotics team and the students rise to the occasion," he said.

The winning teams from La Cueva and Cibola qualified for the 2020 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, in April. 

For a complete list of teams and results from the New Mexico VEX Robotics VRC State Championship, visit their website.

Tags: Core Schools