They’re robots with a mind of their own, and they’re competing in challenges against the clock.
Roughly 150 students and 36 teams around western Kentucky competed in Whitesville Elementary Robo Challenge Xtreme’s Regional Tournament.
Event organizers say, it’s a fun way for students to expand their knowledge of math and science through a challenging robotics competition. They say building the robots is a process.
“To get a robot to accurately deliver an object may take eight-ten hours for the students to perfect with the designing of the robot or the programming,” RCX creator Doug Geiman says.
Students from elementary through high school participate in 3 divisions. Teams are given a box of Lego’s to build element pieces to place on a 4’x8’ mat. Students have to design, build, and program the robot to complete mission’s in 3 minutes.
“They are not remote controlled,” Whitesville Elementary coach Jeremy Stone says. “They have no control once they press go on that mission. The robot should complete its task.”
The challenge is different every year. This year’s theme is an avalanche rescue, where robots rescue Lego dummies in a series of challenges.
Sixth grader Tyler Porter says he became interested when his mom was coaching a different team.
“She was in charge of the robotics team for a high school,” Porter says. “When I became eligible to be old enough to do it, I got into it, and then I got my brother into it.”
Students say programming a robot out of Lego’s is challenging but there is also time between challenges for collaboration.
“You connect with other schools that have the same interest as you with the robotics,” Porter says. “And so you can compare and see, they did this, we did this… And which one worked better.”
Porter says, learning to program the robots is just part of a bigger picture.
“Computers and robots will be the future, and you’ll have to know how to code on them,” Porter says. “And so if you start here on these robots, that’s what the future of the world is going to be like.”