In this year of firsts for PKS, we have another: a team of students entered the Wonder League Robotics Competition for the first time! Five 5th and 6th graders, mentored by Daryl Wong, our STEAM and Makerspace Coordinator, used a block-programming language similar to Scratch to program the robot Cue.
For the first round, the team had to create a large floor mat and program Cue to navigate it. As the project went on, the navigation became increasingly complex with more obstacles, more limitations, and more tasks for the robot to perform. One of the most challenging tasks was to create an attachment for Cue to help it collect five cups, and then move those cups to a different place on the floor mat. The first few iterations failed despite the team’s continued efforts, but this did not faze our students for long. They continued to brainstorm on new approaches, and demonstrating resilience, determination, and collaboration, they finally overcame the programming challenge!
A few weeks after submitting their videos and programming code, the team received some exciting news... among the thousands of teams from 69 countries registered for this competition, our PKS team was selected as one of 37 in the 12-14-year-old age bracket to advance into the invitational round!
The Robotics Team was initially structured as an after school program; now, with the term ended and the final challenge looming for the (unexpected) invitational round of the competition, they needed more time to work together on their final submission. The students asked for the opportunity to meet during lunches and recess times over the course of a few weeks.
The team then tackled their toughest challenge yet, a three-part puzzle that required dressing up the robot as a sea creature, and then coding a way for it to save its “babies.”
“That might sound easy on paper, but it was hard!” said one Robotics Team member. “The biggest challenge was building an attachment on the robot to pick up and transfer the ping-pong ball babies.”
The students spent several weeks in Daryl’s shed, building and testing their prototype until they mastered the coding challenge. Their final project has now submitted, and we salute our students for their participation, perseverance, and inaugural foray into the world of robotics. We’ll update when results of the competition come in.