How many elementary schools have a traveling robotics team? Trabuco Mesa Elementary in Rancho Santa Margarita does! For 6 months, more than 80 students, kindergarten through sixth grade, along with mentors from middle school and high school have contributed to the team effort. They built a simple clawbot, tested it, made some modifications and competed in Ladera Ranch, winning several trophies for teamwork and creative design. This fall they added a more complex robot design utilizing an elevator idea for their manipulating arm.
Over the weekend, their two teams competed in the VEX IQ competition at Mt San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. Although the TMesa teams were the youngest in experience, they held their own against several very impressive robots.
Some of the sixth grade students, using Modkit, a graphical programming environment based on Scratch, wrote code that drove the robot autonomously. With no driver, the robot was able to maneuver through the field, grabbing cubes and placing them in scoring position. The team took 5th place overall.
In addition to their programming success, the teams also entered an engineering notebook in the Excellence Challenge and submitted a STEM research project on hovercrafts. The judges offered praise and helpful critiques. We are hoping the team will continue to imagine and create as they now prepare for January’s local event in Ladera Ranch.
At our Intro to Programming Class..."It's like Minecraft that makes you think." (Sam, 10 years old)