|Look at that crowd!|
Having spent the Saturday before last at a Science Olympiad competition, I think one of the best things about VEX is that it's fun for the parents to watch their kids compete. It really makes for an exciting day. SO is fun for the competitors, but much more subdued. With the exception of a handful of events, there's not much for parents to watch or cheer on until the award ceremony at the end of the day.
Put on by The Oak Park Education Foundation, the event provided an opportunity for Oak Park's 20(!) middle school VEX teams and several guest teams to compete.
Ah, middle school. Our first and completely intimidating VEX competition included many high school teams and their big, bad bots. My team of newbies who'd only had a few weeks to build their robot and I felt about three inches tall as we settled in to the pit (prep) area. This time around, the playing field was more level. And while my guys had neither the best or most complex bot, it fit in with what the rest of the middle school crowd created.
At Battle of the Bots, we had all the supplies we needed and then some. We even loaned out a few items over the course of our day. Ah, karma. Last time we needed to borrow a battery.
Mark Pickus, the Tournament Manager, is committed to making Battle of the Bots an official, middle-school only VEX competition in 2014. It's the only tournament of its kind in the Chicago (and perhaps the tri-state) area. Mark came out to my house late last year to talk with me and a handful of other new middle-school team coaches. I'll share his helpful tips in future posts.
In the end, each of my three team members got to drive, or control, the robot two for matches. Just as importantly, the three boys did a good job of supporting each other. The Makers came in a respectable 12th out of 26 teams, just ahead of Jen's homeschool team. Given that both of our teams jumped in late and pretty cluelessly to VEX, I think we can offer some serious competition in the 2013-14 season. At the very least, we now have a nearby scrimmage partner.
Battle of the Bots made for a great end to our first competition season. We look forward to the announcement of the 2013-14 VEX challenge in May and hope to start brainstorming, building and programming this summer.
Special thanks also to Event Director, Mary Beth Hausken, for her hard work and patience, and to everyone on the event team who helped to day flow smoothly.
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