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Coding, creativity and communication success at CEDoW VEX Robotics final

Two teams of five students from St Paul's have joined students from six local Catholic schools to put their innovative engineering, problem-solving and teamwork skills to the test, competing in the inaugural Diocesan VEX Robotics Final. 

The event, hosted by Ss Peter and Paul Kiama, builds on previous CEDoW VEX Robotics Scrimmage Days, which give students from Years 3 to 8 engaging, hands-on opportunities to explore, build and program VEX robots, as well as develop an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

The final was CEDoW’s first official Wollongong Region Qualifying Tournament, with 15 primary school teams from St Paul's Moss Vale, St Therese West WollongongSs Peter and Paul KiamaSt Clare’s Narellan Vale and St Paul’s Albion Parkshowcasing their skills and battling it out for top honours and an invitation to this year's VEX Nationals Competition in Adelaide in December.

VEX robotics is an international platform that takes students beyond basic robotics coding. It involves a snap-together robotics system using motors, gears, modular construction pieces, sensors and many more add-ons – accessible to a range of skill levels and useful for exposing students to STEM fundamentals.

191101 Diocesan VEX Robotics Final 30v2

CEDoW Learning Technologies Officer and VEX event partner, Ben Woods, said the VEX robotics days encourage the students’ creativity and skills development in a fun, competitive context. They become innovators and engineers as well as coders, collaboratively working together to build and redesign their robots to come up with the best solution for each challenge.

“VEX robotics is STEM education at its best, and it’s taking off in the diocese, with seven schools currently competing and at least another four looking to participate in 2020. The program is really something special, and students are loving it. They are super engaged and learning future skills that will provide them with a great foundation to succeed in life – skills in teamwork, leadership, communication and problem-solving” — Ben Woods, CEDoW Learning Technologies Officer

“With VEX, students are engaged in the engineering and design of their robots, coding components to perform the best they can and scoring the highest amount of points in 60-second rounds. Students work collaboratively within their teams in the lead up to the event and build alliances with other teams on the day to progress their skills,” Mr Woods said. 

“The growth of the students in VEX this year has been impressive, with most schools starting with little to no knowledge of coding and robotics, to now being invited to participate in a national competition – it’s really exciting.”

The students worked on two competitions during the Final – a Teamwork Challenge and Driver Skills Challenge – and loved the experience of coding, collaborating and competing to achieve the best solutions with their VEX robots.

whattheysaidWhat the students said:

"The Final was a great learning day and lots of fun! We definitely want to do more. It's a great team experience and working out strategies with our alliance partners was really fun" — Spencer, St Paul’s Moss Vale

"We learned from listening to others on the day. They offered some good advice about pinions and we will be researching and experimenting with this concept” —  Finley, St Paul’s Moss Vale

"We were excited to see how far we had come in our learning. It has made us want to improve even more" — Lilian, St Paul’s Moss Vale

Our Year 6 teacher, Joanne Smith, said St Paul’s has fostered a good culture of STEM learning across the curriculum at the school – including students not just “coding for the sake of coding” but coding with a user-friendly purpose or use, such as the older primary students creating digital games to teach phonics and maths to the infants children.

Ms Smith said the VEX robotics program has been “fantastic... the learning has been intense and so positive, both for the students and teachers”.

“STEM and VEX might seem daunting at first... but once you start, you can’t stop! It’s rich and deep learning. It gives students the life skills of problem-solving, cooperative learning and compromise. It teaches them to plan and manage their time; about the design process; and to 'plan, do, review' as we say, until you get a solution just right” — Joanne Smith, teacher

“We are introducing it across Stage 3 fully next year, and working towards spiralling our robotics, engineering and design areas of the Science curriculum throughout the school,” she said. 

DIOCESAN VEX ROBOTICS FINAL AWARDS & RESULTS

DIOCESAN VEX ROBOTICS FINAL AWARDS

The following awards were presented on the day. Congratulations to our St Paul's teams for their fantastic success!

Award Name

Winning Team

gold trophycupExcellence Award

St Paul's Primary Moss Vale Gon Robo
(Team 2577A)

1st gold medalTeamwork Champion

St Paul's Primary Moss Vale Blueberries
(Team 2577Z)

2nd silver medalTeamwork 2nd Place

St Paul's Primary Moss Vale Gon Robo
(Team 2577A)

2nd silver medalTeamwork 2nd Place

St Therese West Wollongong Thunder
(Team 29351B)

1st gold medalRobot Skills Champion         

St Paul's Primary Moss Vale Blueberries
(Team 2577Z)

2nd silver medalRobot Skills 2nd Place

St Clare’s Narellan Vale VEXperts
(Team 65234A)

winnermedalDesign Award

St Therese West Wollongong Turtles
(Team 29351C)

winnermedalSportsmanship Award

St Paul's Albion Park Power
(Team 70672B) 

NATIONALS INVITATIONS

Congratulations to our St Paul’s teams, who won two of four invitations to Nationals – an incredible achievement!

winnermedalSt Paul's Moss Vale Gon Robo (Team 2577A)

winnermedalSt Paul's Moss Vale Blueberries (Team 2577Z)

The 'St Paul’s Blueberries' (Lillian, Jessica, Shan, Caspian, Finley) had a fantastic day, taking out first place in both the Teamwork Challenge and the Driver Skills Challenge; while the 'St Paul’s Gon Robo' team (Lucia, Rachael, Spencer, Jarvis, Harrison) [pictured below] celebrated coming 2nd in the Teamwork Challenge and winning the overall Excellence Award.

191101 Diocesan VEX Robotics Final 9v2


CEDoW thanks Learning Technologies Officers, Ben Woods and Mark Woolley, for organising and supporting this event; and the organising teachers from our schools for facilitating their robotics teams – including St Paul's Moss Vale teacher, Joanne Smith. 

Story originally published on Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW) News.
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