Image Source: VEX Robotics
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to help out–admittedly for a little under 2 hours, so not much!–at the VEX Robotics Competion hosted by the East Central ISD’s Legacy Middle School. While there, I picked up a few balls, recorded a podcast and took pictures of the event. This blog entry is the result! 
The event involved a packed room of kids–see pictures below–geeking out over VEX robots.  These were quite a different event than one I’d been involved in many years ago with Lego Robotics.
A Special Thank You
Before going much further, I’d like to thank Dawn Drisdale (@msdris30) and Marguerite Lowak (@mlowak) for organizing the event as part of the STEAM initiative launched by the EC Technology Department this year.  East Central ISD was able to participate because we met last year to allocate funding and Dawn/Marguerite began doing research at the TCEA 2015 State Conference as to what robots to invest in!

I’d also like to do a quick shout to anyone who volunteered to help out at the event, including Virgil Kirk (@virgilkirk) and Sandra Lopez.

Below, you will find some pictures and a podcast interview I recorded with the VEX Robotics laiason.  I love the characterization of robots as “shooters” or “gatherers.”
Left to Right: Thomas Mead, Miguel Guhlin
 Pictures of Competition:
The view into the Legacy MS Cafeteria…you can see the timer at zero. Although you can’t see it, on either side of the timer, you will find two “fields” for the robots.
This is what the “field” looks like. The balls have to be re-setup after each event. After doing a few of these, I must confess to getting pains in some muscles I hadn’t used often! Fortunately, there were high school students as volunteers helping re-stack the balls appropriately. Pictured to the right above, you’ll see the judges for this event, and behind them, a team of student waiting to deploy their robot.
Amazingly, you could see and smell the hard work students were engaged in as they customized their robots. In one case, the man kneeling in the bottom left is actually performing surgery on a robot component with a cutting tool (hence, the “burning smell” some reported), albeit quite controlled.
A robot close-up. Notice the green-rim wheels that allow the robot to move in a variety of directions.
This scoreboard was setup by Michael McClane at the event, enabling student teams to see what was happening and where they placed.