Lancaster – In less than six months, the Vex Robotics team at Joe Walker Middle School has gone from upstart rookie to nationally ranked challenger. Next week, the 10-member team will test their mettle at the Vex Robotics Middle School World Championship competition, to be held from April 18 to April 21 in Anaheim.
The competition brings together 151 teams from all over the United States and eight other countries, including Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
“The Vex Robotics team is the first of its kind in the Antelope Valley,” said Westside Union School District Superintendent Regina Rossall. “The program demonstrates our commitment to providing excellence in everything we do and our resolve to meeting the unique needs of our regional economy in the future.”
In February, the Joe Walker Vex Robotics team placed 15thin their division at the middle/senior high school competition. The Joe Walker team also received the Energy Award for effective teamwork and spirit at the competition. After this event, the team was put on a waitlist for the World Championship and eventually received a personal invitation from Jason Morrella, President of The Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, based on their impressive showing.
Beyond providing an opportunity to compete for fun and awards, the Vex Robotics program also provides lifelong lessons for the students.
“I absolutely love this program. It’s a lot of hands-on experience,” said team captain Justin Sowa, an eighth grader at Joe Walker. “I want to be an engineer when I grow up and this program is helping me get there.”
Vex Robotics is an extra-curricular program that students attend after school or during lunch hours. The team is working to raise money for more robot-building kits and hopes to have Vex Robotics offered as an actual elective class next year.
Emphasis on math, science and engineering are core components of the curriculum at Joe Walker Middle School, which now features what it refers to as a STEALTH education (Science, Engineering, Technology and Learning Through Humanities). Student who attend Joe Walker are given opportunities to participate in diverse programs like VEX Robotics.
For more information about Joe Walker’s Vex Robotics program and for application information, visit the District Website, http://www.westside.k12.ca.us/jw/ or call the school at 661-943-3258.
To make a donation to aid the Vex Robotics team in purchasing more robot kits, make a check payable to Joe Walker ASB with “Vex Robotics” in the memo line and mail to 5632 West Avenue L-8, Lancaster, CA 93536.
(Information via press release from Westside Union School District.)