LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Creative minds filled the Pitser Garrison Civic Center in Lufkin on Wednesday.
Students from 14 schools across East Texas participated in the Region 7 Fall Robotics Competition.
The day started early as students anxiously watch as their hours of hard work is judged.
There were all types of displays including programmed robots that maneuver a Friday night football course and kick a field goal. "To follow the line, we have to program the light sensor to make it detect dark lines instead of light lines," said Carter, a Lindale 5 grader.
The students have only one month to program their robots and run tests. They get the layout of the board about 30 days in advance of the competition. "You have to drag icons. Like there's a movement icon, a sound icon and a recording icon."
Much of the student's time is spent in trial and error, but they realize the process is teaching them far more than just how to win a competition.
"It gives you a lot of knowledge about technology and computers and it helps you learn stuff in case when you're older you have a problem and you can solve it," said Ashley, 5 grade student, Lindale ISD.
It also gives East Texas students an opportunity to be competitive with counterparts across the nation. "It means a lot to me because our school is little and we get to do this thing that costs two or 300 bucks and that's a lot of money coming from us, so it's pretty fun," said Bailey, 7 grade student, Wells ISD.
"They learn how to use math and science with new technology and it doesn't matter if they win. Yes, we'd like to take home a trophy, but what they learn, they take with them. They take it into high school and they take it into their job whenever they get out of high school," said Steven Farmer, teacher, Tenaha ISD.
"These kids are getting ready to prepare for jobs that probably haven't even been created yet, so they're learning to improvise, think on their feet and they build and program the robots completely on their own," said Lana Procella, teacher, Hemphill ISD.
Practicing at least one hour a day, they are dedicated to their robots and their future. The judges rank the teams based on the number of tasks the robot is able to successfully complete. To learn more about Wednesday's competition and the task students prepared for click here.
According to the Region 7 Education Service Center, Robotics is designed for students in grades 4-12 and is focused on team building and higher level thinking. Teams design, build, and program a robot to navigate around formidable obstacles and perform complex tasks. The Robotics Competition is divided into two Divisions.
Robotics competitions are popular across the nation. Most competitions are for schools, but as the competition has evolved, professional competitions are increasing.