Two Charles ro­bot­ics teams to com­pete in VEX Worlds event

North Point High, Berry El­e­men­tary clubs par­tic­i­pat­ing in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Two ro­bot­ics teams from Charles County will be com­pet­ing in the 2017 VEX Worlds ro­bot­ics com­pe­ti­tions in Louisville, Ky., this month.

The Meme Team, com­prised of North Point High School fresh­men Christo­pher Moreno and Max Stine, sopho­more Tyler Ulm­schnei­der and ju­niors Alex Booth, Tyler Cataldo and Jabari Grubb, are cur­rently com­pet­ing in the high school di­vi­sion tour­na­ment, which ends Satur­day.

The Meme Team earned semi­fi­nal­ist rank­ing at the state com­pe­ti­tion held March 4 at Dun­dalk High School. This is their first time be­ing in­vited to the world cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tion in the pro­gram’s five-year his­tory.

“We ran into one com­pli­ca­tion: Our ro­bot would oc­ca­sion­ally lock up on its pick up mech­a­nism, but over­all it ran pretty smooth,” said ju­nior Tyler Cataldo from North Point.

Ti­mothy Yaunch, who coaches the North Point team along with Melanie Cole, said he was pleased to see how far his team has gone.

“They’ve only had four com­pe­ti­tions, so I’m amazed and im­pressed that they’ve made it this far; usu­ally teams need many more com­pe­ti­tions to get this far,” Yaunch said.

The STEM­tas­tic Jaguars of Berry El­e­men­tary School earned fourth place in the cu­mu­la­tive skills rank­ings as well as the Sports­man­ship Award at the Feb. 25 state com­pe­ti­tion.

“We re­ally just cheered for other teams and cel­e­brated them when they got a goal,” Jeremiah Se­vere said of the Sports­man­ship Award.

The STEM­tas­tic Jaguars are com­prised of fourth graders Julien Car­mona, Is­abella Caudil and Jonathan Parham, and fifth graders Elias Bend, Joshua Hong, Jes­sica Nam, Jaxon Rhea, Jhor­dyn Robin­son, Jeremiah Se­vere and Caleb Tuer­rell. This is the first year Berry has taken part in the ro­bot­ics com­pe­ti­tion.

Coaches Ja­cob Gerd­ing and Robyn Cataldo said they were prob­a­bly more ex­cited than the stu­dents when they re­ceived the invite to the VEX Worlds com­pe­ti­tion.

“I got the email and I called Robyn up, and she went ‘Yahhh!’” Gerd­ing said. “It was to­tally un­ex­pected.”

Robyn Cataldo said stu­dents were told they had made it into the world cham­pi­onship through a “Hang Man” game.

“The coaches re­ceived the email that said we were in­vited to Worlds,” Robyn Cataldo said. “So we set up the Hang Man game to read ‘We are go­ing to Worlds.’”

The VEX IQ Chal­lenge El­e­men­tary School Di­vi­sion, in which the STEM­tas­tic Jaguars will com­pete, will be held April 23-25.

In the VEX Ro­bot­ics com­pe­ti­tion, teams of stu­dents are tasked with de­sign­ing and build­ing a ro­bot to play against other teams in a game-based en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenge.

Each year, VEX re­leases the rules and goals for the type of game to be played, and teams must build a ro­bot that can per­form the tasks re­quired.

In this year’s el­e­men­tary school chal­lenge, ro­bots must score in high and low goals and bal­ance on a bridge.

“You’re com­pet­ing against dif­fer­ent ro­bots to see who can get the most hexballs in the scor­ing places,” said Jhor­dyn Robin­son.

In the high school chal­lenge, ro­bots work­ing to­gether in “al­liances” must get star-shaped and cubed ob­jects over a fence to score points.

“It has to lift stars and cubes over a wall,” Booth said. “If you get it on the far side of the field, it’s worth more points, and if it’s near, it’s worth less.”

Moreno said they first used a pitch­fork on the ro­bot to lift up the stars.

“But our first two com­pe­ti­tions, it didn’t re­ally work, so we switched the de­sign,” Moreno said. “Now we have a big claw that just grabs all the stars and cubes.”

Mem­bers of the Meme Team also men­tored the el­e­men­tary school team in build­ing their ro­bot.

“It was dif­fi­cult at first, be­cause we didn’t know them,” Booth said. “But af­ter that, we could teach them what to do, but you had to get it so that they could un­der­stand it.”

Berry El­e­men­tary stu­dent Joshua Hong said the most ex­cit­ing thing about go­ing to Worlds was meet­ing other teams, and see­ing how they de­signed their ro­bots.

Robyn Cataldo said the STEM­tas­tic Jaguars worked af­ter school twice a week to pre­pare for the com­pe­ti­tion.

“This team is one of the most ded­i­cated group of stu­dents that I’ve seen. They’ve re­ally worked hard at be­com­ing a team,” Robyn Cataldo said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTOS

Mem­bers of the Berry El­e­men­tary STEM­tas­tic Jaguars, in front from left, Jonathan Parham, Is­abella Caudill, Joshua Hong, Jor­dyn Robin­son, Caleb Ter­rell and Jeremiah Se­vere, and back from left, Elias Bend, Jaxon Rhea (with ro­bot) and Julien Car­mona, com­pete in the VEX Worlds — VEX IQ Chal­lenge El­e­men­tary School Di­vi­sion com­pe­ti­tion April 23-25 in Louisville, Ky.

Mem­bers of the North Point High School Meme Team, in front from left, Christo­pher Moreno and Jabari Grubb, and in back from left, Tyler Ulm­schnei­der, Alex Booth, Tyler Cataldo and Max Stine, along with their ro­bot, cen­ter, are cur­rently com­pet­ing in the 2017 VEX Worlds — VEX Ro­bot­ics Com­pe­ti­tion High School Di­vi­sion, which runs from April 19-22 in Louisville, Ky.

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