VEX Robotics World Championship Kentucky
Kinsale Community School has been involved in the VEX robotics competition for the past 3 years and have enjoyed the challenge of designing, building and driving a robot to compete against other robots in a game of skill and strategy. When we won the Excellence Award at CIT in January little did we know the adventure that was in store for us in the coming months.
Each year has a designated game with its own peculiarities and challenges. This year’s game was called “In the Zone” and the students on this year’s robotic team were certainly in the zone. They competed in scrimmages leading up to the final in January. They redesigned and rebuilt the robot following each event until they had their final ‘master’ design for the final in CIT. They won 3 awards at the competition, the Overall Tournament Prize, the Coding and Driving Skills Award and the Excellence Award which assured them a place in the World Championships in Kentucky.
Funding for the trip was a huge challenge and of the 24 strong team, 8 students had to be chosen to best represent our country at this world event. Local businesses and families donated generously and a Gofundme page added to the funds raised. The students worked at redesign and coding to make sure their robot would stand up to the rigours of a tough international competition.
The trip was amazing. Unlike many teams who sent their robot ahead by courier we chose the cheaper option of dismantling ours and packing it into a suitcase to travel with us!! We were extremely relieved to see it appear on the carousel at Louisville airport, although we were a little daunted by the purpose built robot cases arriving out alongside our suitcase!
The competition which took place over 4 days in April, started with a robot inspection which we failed!! This was due to a size issue with our new claw which we rectified in a very stressful 30 minutes. The team was very proud to take the only place for Ireland in the parade of nations, walking proudly on stage with the tricolour.
3 days of rigorous competition followed where our robot was allied with 10 different nations to compete against 20 other nations. Each match was nerve wracking as the game strategy in the international competition was very challenging. Our little robot named ‘Laoch’ (warrior) was a little star, driven competently and confidently by Jack T O Callaghan. The beginning of each match had an autonomous period where our students demonstrated their coding skills.
Our team was highly sought after by other countries as a popular alliance partner as we were seen as quick, brave and good defenders. We won some matches and were extremely close in points to some of the top seeds in others. Unfortunately we did not qualify for the finals but we were delighted to be awarded the Community Award which was one of only 13 awards in the Science Division. This award was for our commitment to educating our community about robotics. It also recognised the efforts we made to showcase robotics to our local primary schools and our outreach to other schools in the Irish tournaments.
This was a trip of a lifetime for the team and for the school. This team has left a legacy of success ensuring that robotics is now firmly part of the programme for future TY students.