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Sonoma County Robotics Challenge May 2nd


Sonoma County Robotics Challenge May 2nd

Student teams construct robots that compete in six events

Elementary and middle school students from grades 4-8 will demonstrate 21st century thinking skills and abilities when the intricate robots they’ve constructed compete in the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge. This event takes place on Saturday, May 2, 9:00am to 2:00pm, at Elsie Allen High School, 599 Bellevue Avenue, Santa Rosa. Media representatives and members of the public are invited to see the action at this innovative annual event.

Over 350 students from 26 schools will participate in this year’s Robotics Challenge. Working in teams, they will compete in six events that require skill in robot design and programming. 

Capture the Flag: For this event, students make robots that can locate and capture a flag before a competing robot does, all within a one-minute time period. 

Drag Racing: Students race robots on a track that is 16 feet long, with a goal of beating their opponents to the finish line.

Free-Form Challenge: This year’s free-form challenge encourages student teams to explore the idea of “Rube Goldberg.” A team may pick any task to accomplish using a planned script of actions. The only requirement is that the robot follow the planned script.

Off-Road Racing: Off-road racing involves a 16-foot course with blocks of wood placed at intervals. Students must design robots that can overcome these barriers, stay on the track, and finish in the fastest time. 

Programming Challenge: This challenge involves finding and fixing bugs in a program. Contestants load the “repaired” program onto a robot, then judges evaluate the robot’s performance based on tasks completed and time elapsed during a Sort the Bricks activity.

Sumo: Robot sumo wrestling engages two robot contestants in trying to push each other out of a circular ring. The first robot to touch the floor outside of the ring loses. The robot remaining in the ring wins.

Work on the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge spans the months of February through April. Competitors learn the specifics of the challenge events in February. The next three months involve students in designing, constructing, and programming robots using Lego Mindstorm robotics kits and programming software. Project work promotes the 21st century skills of problem solving, innovation, team collaboration, and communication. 

The Sonoma County Office of Education partnered with local schools and the Sonoma County Economic Development Board to create this program, which is now in its 13th year. The goal is to engage elementary and middle school students in applying mathematics, science, engineering, critical thinking, teamwork, and oral presentation skills through robotics activities

Since its inception, the Robotics Challenge has reached over 100 local elementary and middle schools, involving over 2,500 students and 150 teachers. The project meets its educational goals by actively engaging students in applying academic learning.