St. Mary’s County was well represented at the Maryland State VEX IQ Championship on Saturday, Feb 20, in Towson. Seven county teams advanced to the State level after strong performances at the local CSM Maryland Qualifier and the Ft. Washington State Qualifier earlier in the month.
After some very tough competition against 31 of the best teams in Maryland, two local teams earned invitations to compete at the World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky April 19-23.
Ridge Elementary School: team RES Rockets earned the Elementary Excellence Award. Excellence is the top award and given to the team that exemplifies overall excellence in the VEX IQ robotics program. Areas considered for the award are rankings in the teamwork challenge, robot skills, programming skills, design and engineering, STEM Research Project presentation, other judged areas such as sportsmanship, team spirit and overall quality of the robotics program.
Spring Ridge Middle School: team Roboclan and team Oblivion both received invitations to the World Championship.
Team Roboclan received the STEM Research Project Award for their project on alternative energy sources. STEM Research is given to the team that best demonstrates, through their presentation and discussion with judges, their understanding of the research process and their ability to develop and effectively share the results of their STEM Research Project topic.
Team Oblivions skills ranking was excellent and they were invited to fill one of only two wildcard slots for the state based on their overall performance is Robot Skills.
The VEX IQ program continues to gain momentum in Southern Maryland, doubling in size over the past two years. The program is part of the VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) and was designed to bridge the gap between LEGO league and VEX. The program’s success is largely due to the College of Southern Maryland (CSM), which has taken the lead on the region’s robotics programs, from helping develop new teams to hosting the numerous robotics leagues and competitions. CSM is a critical component to our students’ success in these programs.
Both Ridge Elementary and Spring Ridge Middle School share another common thread: both programs received their VEX IQ equipment and competition tables from The Patuxent Partnership (TPP) as part of a STEM initiative to bring robotics programs to local schools. According to The Partnership’s Executive Director, Bonnie Green, “Robotics is one of the most popular STEM programs in the nation. Whether it is VEX, LEGO, FRC, Botball or some other division, having a viable robotics program in every school should be our goal if we are serious about growing our future STEM workforce.”
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC) leadership clearly agrees. NGC recently gave a $10,000 grant to SMCPS in September 2015 to support the growing robotics demand. Jason Hayes, Supervisor of Science, identified 17 schools within the county to receive robotics equipment and / or support, to include implementing new VEX IQ programs at Lexington Park Elementary, Leonardtown Middle School and the Chesapeake Charter School.
Scott Stewart, NGC Corporate Lead Executive, has been a proponent of STEM-for-All activities and believes that STEM education and initiatives at an early age can change the way our children view themselves, and their decisions about education and career paths as they mature. “Initiatives such as robotics allow a wide range of students to experience STEM and STEM related education without being enrolled in specialized courses or class rooms. These are the students that we need to target for outreach … the ones that don’t have daily access to the technology and equipment found in the STEM Academies” Said Stewart.
To learn more about Northrop Grumman’s commitment to Corporate Citizenship, please visit www.northropgrumman.com.
The Patuxent Partnership works with government, industry and academia on programs and initiatives designed to support workforce development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), host programs of interest to the Navy and the broader community and supports research and technology development. Visit www.paxpartnership.org.