Robotics competition coming to Albert Lea High SchoolPublished 9:43am Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Fusing learning and fun together is the idea behind a robotics competition coming to Albert Lea in December.
Riverland Community College will play host to the Dream It Do It Southern Minnesota Vex Robotics Tournament on Dec. 14 at Albert Lea High School. High schools, colleges and even Scouting troops are invited to obtain a kit from the college and build the robot before the tournament. Peggy Young, of the Riverland training and development department, said registration is open until Nov. 16.
“There’s still plenty of time for teams to build their robots,” Young said.
The college hosted a scrimmage in 2012 but wanted to hold a tournament this year. Young said up to 24 teams can compete at the tournament, and a handful have signed up from schools in Austin, Mankato, Hayfield, Windom and Fairmont, as well as a team from Riverland. Any schools are welcome to attend, and Young said Boy Scouts have a Vex badge they can earn by competing in a tournament.
“It’s a daylong event,” Young said. “We start the morning with inspections of the robot, jump right into the competition and end with championships and awards.”
Schools that compete have to get a kit from Riverland and design the robot using the Vex Robotics products. The entry fee for the Dec. 14 event is $60. There is also a Vex registration fee of $100. Young said that Riverland is part of a 360º Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Advanced Technological Education Region Center of Excellence, which supports robotics in schools. Because of that effort, there will be 12 robotics kits available at no charge for schools. Young said Vex is more accessible than some other robotics competitions.
“Vex is much more affordable for some smaller districts,” Young said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to learn more about the robotics industry.”
Young said the event is both educational and fun for students. There will be a disc jockey and emcees. After teams build the robot, they will have to find another team to join into an alliance. Those two teams compete with weighted balls that have to be lifted and put into baskets. Robots also must be able to go under obstacles. Since it can be hard to design a robot to do all those tasks, teams will want to pick another robot that can help them.
“That’s where the pairing of the alliance really becomes important,” Young said. “It gives students an opportunity where they can match up, meet other students, hang out all day and talk about strategy.”
The event is free and open to the public. Young encouraged family and other students to attend and support the competitors.
“The events themselves are very fun,” Young said.
The event in Albert Lea will be one of three Vex tournaments throughout the state. The others will be in Thief River Falls and St. Cloud. Young said Riverland is anticipating teams from all over Minnesota, northern Iowa, western Wisconsin and eastern South Dakota may participate.
Interested schools can contact Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 507-433-0602.