Robotics teams compete at VEX World Championships

Boasting award-winning students across all grade levels in Garland ISD, that fact is perhaps most evident with the district’s robotics program. Four elementary, middle and high school teams all recently advanced to the VEX World Championships. This year’s competition was held in in Louisville, Kentucky, bringing together more than 1,600 teams from 30 different nations.

Bullock Elementary School participated in its first-ever competition last December, after which, sponsor Stacy McGough said all of her teams immediately revamped their robots. The five-member Bullock Bear Bot Team A then won first place two competitions later, qualifying for the state tournament, where they came in second. At worlds, Bear Bot Team A was part of a division with approximately 80 other competitors. They battled 10 matches over two days and fought from 73rd place to 20th. Eventually qualifying for the division finals, the team placed sixth with a score of 190. 

Like Bullock, 2017-18 was the first competition year for Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence as well. And, according to sponsor Andrea Hardgrave, it was a journey of failures, successes, disagreements, teamwork and fun. Along the way, team Leopard-Bot was recognized with a Design Award. The group also won the Sportsmanship Award at worlds. Hardgrave summed up the team’s accomplishments by saying they worked hard and constantly strived for better.

Up next is Hudson Middle School. This campus is no stranger to international competition. In fact, Hudson has sent teams to worlds the past three years. This year, team Cheese Itz advanced after winning the North Texas State Championship Excellence Award. This is the highest honor given by VEX, and according to sponsors Gye and Christina Kraemer, it was well deserved. Cheeze Itz spent more than 1,000 hours building and programming the robot students named Bob. The Kraemers also say Hudson’s program focuses on teamwork, leadership, dedication and learning.

Sachse High School rounds out the four teams, and it too has previously sent groups to worlds. This year, team Sachse Apollo, boasting four out of five freshman members, received the honor. According to sponsor Randy Scrudder, each student came in with a minimum of two years of robotics experience, and the team began working on its robot last summer. They went through three different iterations of their creation throughout the year, along with repeated redesigns and upgrades in appendages and programming. Scrudder believes his team will be a major factor in VEX robotics in the North Texas region next year.

Bullock Bear Bot Team A, Leopard-Bot, Cheeze Itz and Sachse Apollo all received Evidence of Excellence awards from the GISD Board of Trustees after demoing their creations during the June 12 work session.