New Diana ISD robotics teams compete in world championship | Education -

New Diana ISD robotics teams compete in world championship | Education

DIANA — A dozen New Diana ISD students gathered this past week in a classroom around a small field. On that field, two robots designed and built by the students collected tennis balls and tossed them into goals. A countdown started, the timer sounded, and the students cheered.

The students comprise three robotics teams, and they’re set to take on the World.

The VEX Robotics World Championship, that is.

Thousands of students from across the globe are convening in Dallas to compete for top honors in the competition, which started this May 3 and continues through Thursday. The championship is the first in-person VEX event in more than two years. Worldwide, 20,000 teams compete throughout the year in elementary, secondary and college programs. Only a fraction of those teams qualify for the world championship, and this year, that includes three from New Diana ISD.

”We’ve got two teams from middle school going and one team from elementary school going,” New Diana High School science teacher and sponsor Shawn Warden said before the teams departed.

The two middle school teams (4 Musketeers and The Elite 4), led by Samantha Szydloski and one elementary school team (Champion), led by Cindy Ludgate, had been prepping for the championship. Each team practiced twice a week, but students would squeeze in a little more training when they could.

”When we have free time in other classes, some of our teachers will let us come in here and practice,” 4 Musketeers team member Bailey Hudnall said.

For VEX robotics, plans begin right after World for the following year’s competition.

”The students, starting in May, will begin with an engineering journal,” Warden said. “It has to do with their brainstorming, looking at the elements of the game, putting it all down on paper.”

As soon as they can, teams begin designing and building their robots.

The teams are competing in VEX IQ contests that include matches that focus on driving skills, programming skills and teamwork.

Robotics introduces engineering and design, allowing students to learn hands-on, lifelong skills.

”I thought it would be fun to tinker with stuff,” Hudnall said. “It gave me something to do. I found that I have a real passion for it and it’s really fun.”

The NDHS team participated at World in 2019, but this is the first time for a NDISD middle or elementary school team to compete in the championship.

”I’m looking forward to just going to World and just getting to see it,” The Elite 4 team member Layla Elrod said.

The contest is available for streaming at The middle school teams left Sunday for the championship to compete Monday and Tuesday, while the elementary team is set to leave today to compete Wednesday and Thursday.

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