Sanskar Pradhan and three other middle school students in the St. Vrain Valley School District designed a complicated robot that competed in a state championship in Denver on Saturday.
Their team, Mechanical Chaos, is among 16 that will be representing the school district at the VEX Robotics World Championship 2023 in Dallas in late April and early May.
Sanskar’s team — Sam Anderson, Nischal Gorla and Viki Muruganandham Venkatachalam — also won the Amaze award and State Tournament Champion award on Saturday.
“Our team had a great time participating in the robotics tournament,” Sanskar said. “We put a lot of effort into designing our second robot using VEX V5 metal parts and VEX pneumatics, and it paid off.”
The district uses the VEX Robotics program to organize its many robotics clubs, which usually meet a couple of times a week after school. Sanskar said he’s gained many skills through the program.
“Robotics is an incredibly engaging and rewarding activity that allows us to explore different aspects of engineering, coding and problem-solving,” he said. “Through our experiences in robotics, my team and I have learned the importance of effective communication, cooperation, leadership and good sportsmanship.”
Around 850 students in the district participate on robotics teams, and they’ve competed in at least 17 tournaments this school year, said Alexandra Downing, the district’s robotics program manager.
“I look at how much they’ve grown — not just the students who are participating but my robotics leadership team that are running the tournaments — their growth in understanding robotics and the skills that they’ve learned is amazing,” Downing said. “You see these kids having patience with each other, and they’re persevering through things.”
The teams face many challenges — such as their robots not working — and they learn to collaborate, persevere and problem solve together, she explained.
“We had a team at states that was ranked 27, and then by the end of the states they had pushed through and were ranked 11,” Downing said. “They didn’t let it stop them … they’re like, ‘OK, our robot broke, we have to fix it,’ and they came back and were ranked 11th and got an award … how many people can say that?”
The district’s elementary school teams are scheduled to participate in the state tournament this weekend, and find out whether they qualify for the world championship.
The district also hosted its first Unified Robotics Event in February, which showcased the positive outcomes of engaging students with disabilities in engineering and technology.
“One of the best things about the skills of using robotics is that it transfers to other areas of their career and their life, and I just hope that every student who wants to do robotics, is able to,” Downing said.