Southern Minnesota & Iowa students take top honors at Dream It. Do It. Southern MN VEX Robotics Tournament

The Windom Eagles A Team from Windom Middle School and High School won the Excellence Award at the Dream It. Do It. Southern Minnesota VEX Robotics Tournament on Saturday, December 14 at the Albert Lea High School. The tournament was hosted by Riverland Community College. By winning this award, the team earned their second invitation to the VEX Robotics Competition World Championship in Anaheim, California. The judges awarded the Windom Eagles A Team the Excellence Award because they had a strong understanding of design, worked well with other teams and were a well-rounded team.

The Windom Eagles A Team was also on the winning alliance, along with the Boss Botz from the Boy Scouts in Cold Spring, Minnesota, and Percussive Maintenance from Solon High School in Solon, Iowa. This alliance of three teams competed against 18 other teams to be named Tournament Champions.

Boss Botz also won the Design Award and Robot Skills, and Percussive Maintenance was the Programming Skills Winner. The judges shared that the Boss Botz won the Design Award for their professional approach and ability to take what they learned from a previous competition to improve their robot.

A second team from Windom, the Windom Eagles B Team, won the Build Award. They received this award for building a well-crafted, reliable robot. The judges shared they had a reason for each part of their design. Another team from Solon, the Raging Bananas from Solon Middle School, won the Energy Award for their enthusiasm which kept building throughout the day.

Other award winners were the teams X-Bot and the Scarlets from Mankato West High School. X-Bot won the Sportsmanship Award for their ability to work with other teams and their professionalism. The Scarlets won the Judges Award for overcoming significant challenges with their robot, rebuilding it in a short amount of time to compete successfully throughout the day.

Teams are excited about their awards, but Bob Ruby, coach of the Windom Eagles, has seen a greater impact. “Robotics helps students narrow down areas of interest and helps them look towards careers they had never thought of as being exciting paths. … I see students€™ participation changing them in such positive ways. This program is positive for the whole community. People will be looking forward to watching their hometown team compete. We want to give a great thank you to 360 and Dream It. Do It. for making this program available and possible.”

To prepare for the tournament, each team learned the game Toss Up, which involves maneuvering large balls into different zones, stashing small balls into containers and hanging robots from a bar at the end of the game. They designed, built and programmed their robot using the VEX Robotics Design System, using their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They also learned an equally important set of skills, including communication, critical thinking, project management and teamwork.

The Dream It. Do It. Southern Minnesota VEX Robotics Tournament is one of three tournaments in Minnesota, and several of the teams who competed at Riverland will also compete at the Dream It. Do It. Central Minnesota VEX Tournament in St. Cloud, Minnesota. These tournaments are part of more than 400 tournaments taking place throughout the 2013-2014 season, engaging more than 7,300 teams from 26 countries around the world.

Many of the Minnesota VEX Robotics teams and several award winners received VEX kits from colleges that are part of 360 Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence, including Riverland Community College.

“Robotics is a great opportunity for students to put STEM skills into practice while learning about manufacturing programs, like Riverland, and careers, where those same skills are used,” says Peggy Young from Riverland Community College. “These students are learning mechanical design, troubleshooting, programming, problem solving and teamwork the same skills manufacturers need from their future workforce.”

Photos from the day are posted on Dream It. Do It. Minnesota’s Facebook page. To learn more about Dream It. Do It. Minnesota, visit dreamitdoitmn.com. More information about the VEX Robotics Competition is available at Roboticseducation.org and RobotEvents.com.