Robotics competition prepares STEM students for championship

Robotics competition prepares STEM students for championship

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - They use teamwork and technology to build STEM skills and robots.

"I honestly want to be an engineer when I grow up," said Midland Lee Junior Chris Pina. "I like working with my hands and all that. Building this stuff is amusing."

The Petroleum Museum and Midland Lee High School hosted First Tech Challenge, where 20 teams from nine different schools compete against each other using robots they built themselves. Robots had to perform tasks like picking up items and placing them in a certain location.

"It gets them started so they can have fun and see where they need to make changes in their robot, how the robot will work, how it'll perform," said Alan Pitkin, Career and Technical Education Teacher of STEM Robotics at Midland Lee.  "They spend a lot of hours working. They had really good robots, they worked and performed really well."

One team called Roboto Muchachos are a new team and built their robot within a month.

"The first challenge is we're just learning. Learning what each piece does in there, each little screw means, each little rotation, anything like that, every little bit. We had to learn about it. Learning a whole different type of programming was very difficult, too," said Midland Lee Junior  Joseph Granado.

"We tried different materials like the claw and they wouldn't stick like we wanted it to," said Midland Lee Gabe Herrera. "We tried different ideas and this was one of the better ideas that we had."

"We went from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive to 6-wheel drive until we got it jotted down," said Pina. "Once we got it jotted down, we started working on the claw."

The competition is called a league play, which schools need to compete in three league plays before the championship. There were nine schools that competed with 20 teams Saturday morning.

"They're learning to think, problem solve and use electronics and they're going to be doing mechanical, and all work together as a device and weigh in, have fun and play the game," said Pitkin.

"Engineering helps out everybody every day. It's good to help out people. Knowing what you like in it, it's challenging but it's worth a shot," said Pina.

The Midland Lee students said thanks to their sponsors, their robots wouldn't have become possible.

"Thanks to our sponsors, J Robert Jones Charitable Trust, SM Energy for giving us the chance to work with these robots and everything. Without them, we wouldn't have this amazing robot," said Roboto Muchachos. "We wouldn't be able to do any of this and pursue what we want to do if it weren't for them."

To help and sponsor the program, you can contact Jami Owen with the MISD Education Foundation here.

Copyright 2017 KWES. All rights reserved.