MARION — Middle and high school students across Ohio spent a weekend filled with technology and robotics at the VEX State Championships in Marion, hosted by Ohio State University.
Lorain County saw a strong turnout as six Elyria teams swept all major awards in the middle school division. Each of the Elyria middle school teams that qualified for state made it to the “knockout” round of the tournament, among a field of 48 teams.
Elyria robotics teams Argos and Wall-E each won the tournament championship, with Argos nabbing the excellence award for all around performance, and Wall-E winning the design award for robot design. Both teams qualified for the world championships in Louisville, Kentucky, April 24 to 27.
Elyria Robotics team Richard reached the semifinals and tallied the highest number of total points among all teams. It also was named robotics skills champion, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to earn them a world invitation.
The high school division drew 45 teams from across the state. While five teams from Elyria High School competed, only team Force placed during the tournament, advancing to the semifinals but losing to Broadview Heights Brecksville Robotics group Dipstick. As a semifinalist, Force will be advancing to the world championships as well, bringing the district’s count to three groups.
There are more than 55 students, from four buildings, in grades six to 12 with 13 robots who make up Elyria Robotics. The club was created for Elyria High School in 2016, founded by Elyria High School math teacher Mike West, who serves as head coach for the group.
“I am unbelievably proud of the students,” West said. “Their success is a direct correlation to the amount of hard work, dedication and sacrifice they have made to their team. The skills they have learned in robotics will transfer over to many areas of life. They have learned how to plan, communicate, conquer adversity, as well as build, program and drive their bots.”
West said the students have devoted hours to their craft that shows “this is a labor of love.
“They truly impress me every single day and they make me a better coach and teacher,” West said.
Lorain independent teams also had an impressive showing this weekend, with one of the three Longfellow Middle School teams, Chronus Robotics, earning third place and another, Prometheus Robotics, winning the innovate award, which goes to the team with the most innovative, creatively designed robot.
Because of Chronus’s winning record, it got an invitation to compete at worlds.
Brookside High School’s team, A for Effort, won the build award and qualified for worlds. That brings the tally up to five Lorain County teams competing at the world tournament, which will draw representatives from more than 42 countries.
Lorain’s robotics teams are supported primarily through independent sponsors. There are 12 students on the Longfellows team.
Longfellow science lab teacher and head coach of Longfellow robotics Denise Fahrney said this was a record-breaking year for Lorain.
“I think they did rather well,” said Fahrney. “I was really happy because this year we ended up bringing more awards and trophies than any other year. We didn’t make it into the finals, but they worked very hard all season long to get into the state tournament.”
Lorain and Avon Lake high schools each sent two teams to compete, but neither managed to qualify for worlds, or secure any awards.