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The first annual Middle School robotics competition got underway on February 24 in the R-L Center. Prior to the event, engaged teams of Middle School students, under the guidance of science teacher Rick Thompson, built and programmed robots using Lego Mindstorm Robotics.
Video coverage by Cindy Green.

Robotics Challenge Teaches More Than Programming

Middle School science teacher Rick Thompson has been teaching robotics to 8th graders for close to 10 years, but this year he took the curriculum to a new level by adding a friendly competition--the Food Factor Challenge. The competition, held Monday, February 24 and Tuesday, February 25 in the R-L Center was the culmination of the winter term during which students, using Lego Mindstorm Robotics, created and programmed their robots to complete various different “missions” on a themed playing field.

Throughout the term-long process, students not only built an autonomous robot, they explored a real world problem, and learned the value of friendly competition for mutual gain. In the Food Factor challenge, robots performed different tasks to keep food fresh and safe as it traveled from farm to table. Each team was given two-and-a-half minutes to complete as many tasks as possible in three different rounds, earning points along the way.

The anxiety was palpable as teams placed their robots on the board and sent them on their way. Would their robot hit the mark and fulfill its mission or would they miss their target and become tangled in the course? The competition was exciting to watch, but for Rick Thompson the thrill was in the valuable experience gained throughout the process. Mission accomplished.

Contributing photographer: Robert R. Ramsey

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