BJA Robotics Team Advances to World Championship

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BJA robotics team

A BJA Middle School robotics team will represent South Carolina at the VEX Robotics World Championship.

BJA’s Light Brigade team (robot “Ralphie”) won the state championship earlier this month at Dutch Fork Middle School in Irmo. The world championship is April 28-30 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The BJA Light Brigade team—composed of Daniel Hand, Samuel Headley, Jonathan Lovegrove, Henry Miller, Joseph Moran and Kai Nickerson—also won the competition’s Amaze Award, given for building a competition robot that clearly demonstrated overall quality, a solid mechanical design, robot programming, robustness, strong performance and consistency.

VEX competitions require teams to demonstrate their robot’s ability to complete a variety of skills in autonomous mode and remotely guided by the students. The Light Brigade team posted a 10-0-1 record in the state competition.

The BJA Middle School Alpha and Omega team (robot “Alphie”) finished 14th in the state. Both teams are under the leadership of Tim Jones and Dan Nelson.

Robot "Ralphie" Light Brigade’s robot “Ralphie”

Both teams did well in the qualifying rounds. Though Alpha and Omega lost in the first of the championship rounds, Light Brigade and its alliance partner team Insquiring, from College Park Middle School in Ladson, won three single-elimination rounds to advance to the championship match. They tied with the opposing alliance before winning the title-deciding rematch.

The state competition was the middle school teams’ fourth tournament this year.

At BJA Elementary School, all 10 of the robotics teams (grades 2 through 6) advanced to the final round of the Wonder Workshop Robotics Competition for the third consecutive year. Nearly 8,000 teams made up of 35,500 students from 69 countries competed.

The competition started in October, and the students met for several hours each week after school to complete the five missions before the January 17 deadline. The teams were required to program the robot, build functional accessories, record audio cues, problem solve, and rely on each other’s strengths to solve and complete the missions. For the final round, the teams were given one month to complete one mission. The final round results will be announced April 29.

In addition to fulfilling their competition schedule, the fifth- and sixth-grade teams prepared and presented robotics workshops for the BJA K5 students in February. Each robotics team worked with a small group of K5 students, introducing the robots and teaching the basic concepts of programming. They presented a lesson, walked the K5 students through a coding exercise, allowed them to handle the robots and then ended with a coding activity. Each K5 student received a backpack tag for participating.

The activity was a great opportunity for the robotics students to have to think through what they do and how they could present it simply to young students.

Special to BJUtoday by Jenny Copeland and Tim Jones