Robotics Team is Finalist in VEX V5 Competition

Robotics Team is Finalist in VEX V5 Competition

On Saturday, November 19 and Sunday, November 20, The Governor’s Academy Robotics Team competed in the VRC Spin Up competition at North Andover High School. Of the 47 teams in the competition, 16 teams made it to the finals. Three Governor’s teams competed—one team reached the quarter-finals and a second team reached the championship round, ultimately coming in second place.

“To bring a robot to competition after only eight weeks of work is a real challenge. I'm proud of how hard our teams worked to be prepared for a complex game, and how well they worked together to overcome the challenges presented by a long day of competition” said Marcus Soule, Director of the robotics afternoon program.

Started in 2014, robotics is an afternoon program offered in the fall season and centered around the VEX V5 system. Twelve students participate in the afternoon program each fall and there are no prerequisites—class year, courses, or other experience. The robotics afternoon program provides a unique learning opportunity for students outside of the academic day. Students work collaboratively exchanging ideas to solve complex problems.

“Over the past few months, I learned that when working with real problems and competing against strangers, nothing is guaranteed. The real world is unpredictable, and I think it’s something special when you get to experience that outside of the comfort of a classroom or three-page exam. I don’t think any other afternoon program could have given me that same insight” said Seth Williamson ’24.

The program culminates in a competition which is held the weekend before Thanksgiving; the game setup and rules change each year. In this year’s competition, teams built a robot and program that was controlled by a joystick. The competition focused on autonomous work meaning that for a period of time the robot must run on its own code alone.

“We had to come up with our own ideas and research for designs. We learned how to problem solve and work as a team to tackle issues and to ideate different mechanisms. There are few other programs that offer the same level of independent learning,” reflected Miffy Wang ‘24.

Williamson added, “The team was also supportive of one another, and when someone needed help, the team would always pitch in.”

Beginning this year, robotics will be offered as part of the academic program, too. Mr. Soule will offer a second semester robotics elective that will give students a foundation in microcontrollers and sensors. Students will learn the basics of electricity, circuits, sensors, and c programming for microcontrollers. The course will follow the project-based learning (PBL) model and there will be no prerequisites other than a strong interest in programming and robotics. The elective will culminate in a final project, likely an autonomous task for the robot to complete.

“Our world has been irrevocably changed by increasingly affordable electronics. This, combined with hobby-grade microcontrollers, allows for students to gain a basic understanding of both coding, and the electrical principles that govern how so many things in their lives work. It's an essential twenty-first century skill to have basic literacy in these topics, and it provides a sound base for students interested in programming and engineering,” said Soule.

three students at the governor's academy troubleshoot at robotics competition with their teacher

Miffy Wang '24, Mathew Kung '24, Robotics Coach Marcus Soule, and Jason Ke '24 at VRC Spin Up competition at North Andover High School.