TMS robotics team excels on tourney circuit

Apr. 20 — Tahlequah Middle School sponsors three robotics teams, and they’re all competing in different tournaments and winning contests.

The three teams attended the Technology Student Association VEX Conference Tournament in Park Hill, where they vied against 34 teams throughout the region. Artemis ranked first, followed by Cu? Iosity. That Weird Team finished eighth, but impressed judges with its driving ability.

The teams competed in three other tournaments this season, two of which were held at TMS.

At one of the tournaments, Cu? Iosity won the Excellence Award, and at the other, the Design Award. Artemis took the Excellence Award at one of the tournaments, which qualified them for the State Tournament. That Weird Team qualified for State based on driving skills, so all three teams had the chance to compete at the state level.

Robotics is a branch of computer science and engineering where students make robots to perform certain tasks. At a tournament, students have one minute to use their robot to score points by performing a task. Prior to the tournament, the students are responsible for building, coding, and programming the robots. Students must also learn to work as a team, and each shares responsibilities driving the robots.

“They have to collaborate with the other team that is there,” said Kym Tinsley, TMS robotics coach.

The students started building their robots in September, and their first competition took place in January.

“So these guys have been here since September, building their robot, coding, making adjustments and completely rebuilding,” Tinsley said. “I love robotics in that, especially at this age, it exposes them to the field of robotics, engineering, and coding. They are able to collaborate. It gets them interested and excited about the field.”

She said students also learn personal skills, as they are in charge of presenting their work.

“Besides engineering, it helps them with public speaking because they have to be able to present their robot projects that they have worked on all year long. They have to be able to interview. They have to be able to work with people from other countries. who do not speak their language. They have to think quickly and figure out how to communicate, “said Tinsley.

Gracie Franks is a seventh-grader who moved from Houston, Texas, when she was in elementary school. Before she moved to Tahlequah, she homeschooled, so for her, robotics was a great way to connect with students her age.

“I heard of robotics, and I thought, that sounds kind of cool. So, when I was in fourth grade, I tried out for the team and made it, and I fell in love with it, and I’ve been doing it. ever since, “said Gracie.

She loves all aspects of robotics, but her favorite part is being able to be a part of a team and work with other people. She also likes to critically think to solve complex problems.

Kaylee Liles is a seventh-grader who has been building things since she was a little girl. Before she joined robotics in fourth grade, she used to play with Legos. Now she is tackling larger projects.

“I joined robotics because I’ve always loved designing and building things,” said Kaylee. “I like the challenge of robotics. My favorite thing about it is trying to figure out how to program so you can drive without the controller. I also enjoy building the robots.”

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