Ideas for Squared Away

Schools are about to start and across Delmarva, that means that the rest of the robot teams are starting to spin up. A number of groups have met across the summer and there have been some summer camps.

This really good article about Squared Away covers some strategy details that will give some roboteers a running start on the season.

Every year, for every competition game, VEX designs a “Hero-bot”, a design that can play the basic game. The robot for Squared Away – Clutch looks the same as past years robots. A two motor, 4 wheel drive base, backbone, 4 bar linkage arm and a claw. This year the claw faces down to make it easy to manage the cubes. This year there is a height restriction on the robots, Clutch is able to stay under the line by the use of some pegs to keep the arm from moving too high.

Both the insights from Summer Camp and Clutch should give teams a running start for the 2019-2020 season.

Qualifying Criteria 2019

The 2019-2020 season qualifying criteria is available!

VRC Qualifying Criteria 2019-2020 can be downloaded. There are some important changes. Key this year has to do with the addition of new divisions. This means that Delmarva can send 3 teams from High School (same as last year) but now can send 3 teams from Middle School. This means for both groups the Excellence Award and Tournament Winners are eligible to go to Worlds!

The VEXIQ Qualifying Criteria 2019 shows the changes from last year. There is no change in the number of slots from 3 at the Elementary School level (Excellence and Tournament Winners) and the Middle School single Excellence Award winner.

If you are part of a VEX University team this years VEX U Qualifying Criteria is a must read. Changes to parts and what you can print this year are very important.

There are other things to be aware of, so take a quick read of the documents.

Event Partners Meeting 2019

Event Partners are the people that run the events in Delmarva. The annual Event Partner meeting was held on 13 August at Polytech High School in Camden Delaware. There were 11 partners present. The meeting was run by Dan Troy our local Regional Support Manager.

Last year had some good stats on the overall VEX programs

2018-2019240,000 Roboteers
24,000 Teams
25,000 Events
60+ Countries

And we did pretty well in Delmarva

VIQ Elementary School33
VIQ Middle School9
VRC Middle School27
VRC High School35

There is the possibility of grants this year:
Trailer Grants – there are two forms of this. First is a combination of a 15′ trailer, 4 fields, 4 elements, 4 displays, 4 Raspberry Pi, cables, routers, extension cords. This will require the recipient to prove insurance coverage on the trailer and proof that they have a vehicle that can tow it.

Second trailer is just the components, event partner will need to supply the trailer (or their own transportation)

Dan will check on if there is a similar version for VEX IQ (shooting for 6 fields)

Worlds Updates
2020 World Championship will be in Louisville KY. In 2021 the championship will move to Houston TX (2021-2024)

At the 2020 Championship the number of divisions will grow by 2. This will allow ~160 more teams to go to Worlds

New updates to the Code of Conduct will state that outside activity of roboteers will be counted during judging and egregious activity (hate mail to RECF staff as an example)

Referee Training
Referee Training is available on line. RECF is mandating the Head Referee take the training and be qualified. They may suggest that for Regional events that are Worlds Qualifier that all referees be qualified. Training is simple takes 20-30 minutes to do. You will need to create a new sign on to get into the testing. (Your VEX sign on does not carry over

Tournament Manager will have a link to the qualification data base so EP’s can check on the status of the certification.

The pilot program on returning judges comments that Foster ran in the 2018-2019 season. RECF has decided to put this on the back burner for 2019-20

RECF is suggesting that all teams should be interviewed by the judges. Interviews are to be done in the pits. Notebook judging and discussions should be done in a closed room. Judged awards should be decided by judges only (not EP) after the last qualifying match.

There is a new Volunteer management system to make it easier to help track what people are doing for you.

New rubric for this season with more categories, points are now 1-5, and you don’t need to award any points. This should make scoring the teams easier. There is now a 5 point bonus for having a bound notebook.

Other topics
STEM Research project to come out on August 15. It’s not required at all IQ events, but will be at the Regional Championship. They are working on a way to collect the video submissions.

For the 2020-21 the VEXIQ field will be increased from 4’x8′ to 6’x8′. will be changing, so if you have deep links they will no longer work.

They are adding new resources for people to use. Check out their new STEM Labs portal!

Squared Away

The size of the robot IS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR. Robots are now measured from the inside the wall. If you played last years game you have the parts to make this years sizing tool follow these instructions, if not this sizing tool is for sale

If you build Clutch, if you build it incorrectly it will be too tall to play the game.

Tower Takeover
Scoring in this game is complex, and it’s recommended that you get one of the scoring apps.

Unlimited expansion! Wall Bots are now legal!!

Raspberry Pi
Support for events using Raspberry Pi’s has gotten much better. Teams in Delmarva that want to use Raspberry Pi should contact our RSM – Dan or Foster from STEM Robotics for help. Foster has 9 Raspberry Pi’s and small monitors for field displays. VEX is looking at releasing LED “Hats” to allow LED lighting around the field perimeters that is controlled by the Raspberry Pi


Summer Robot Learning

It’s almost time for school!

VEX Robotics created STEM Labs as a supplemental educational resource. The purpose was to support educators with free, easy to follow STEM lesson plans that align with educational standards. Each STEM Lab contains hands-on lessons with guided explorations that encourage teamwork and collaboration.

There are both EDR and VIQ lessons, and lessons are also broken out by age levels. This is a great resource if you are looking for ways to build your team’s skills or if you want to improve your individual skills.

2019-2020 Game Release

The games for 2019-2020 were released at the end of the Worlds Championship. There are two exciting games this season

VEX IQ – Squared Away

The scoring objects in VEX IQ Challenge Squared Away are 3” diameter Balls and 7” Cubes. There are a total of (35) Balls and (7) Cubes on the field. The object of the game is to score as many points as possible with your alliance partner in one of two ways: by scoring Balls in or on Cubes, and by moving Cubes to their respective Scoring Zones.

Squared Away Game Manual

Squared Away Game Video

VEX VRC – Tower Takeover

There are sixty-six 66 Cubes on a Tower Takeover Field. Twenty-two (22) Green, twenty-two (22) Orange and, twenty-two (22) Purple. There are also seven (7) Towers placed around the field. Five (5) of these are neutral, with the remaining two being alliance specific. Alliance specific Towers may only be utilized by robots of the same alliance.

Cubes can be Placed in Towers, or Scored in Goals. Cubes are worth at least 1 point when Placed in a Goal Zone. The exact value of each cube is determined by how many Cubes of that specific color have been Placed in Towers. When Cubes are Placed in or removed from Towers, the new values apply to ALL cubes. So the actions of one Robot will impact the potential score for both their own alliance, and their opponents.

The alliance that scores more points in the Autonomous period is awarded with (6) bonus points, added to the final score at the end of the match. The Alliance who wins this Autonomous Bonus is also awarded 2 purple cubes, which may be introduced at any time during the driver control period.

Tower Takeover Game Manual

Tower Takeover Game Video

VEX Worlds Results 2019

In the VRC side, only two teams from Delmarva were able to make it to Worlds High School event.

3389E Tec-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club

3389C TEC-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club

3389C Placed 175 out of 305 for skills, they placed 64th out of 96. The 3389E robot placed 84th out of 96 in their division

On the VIQ side:

23B Claymont Boeing Claymont Elementary

23T Claymont Tesla Claymont Elementary

19968E HOB Vikings Robotics H. O. Brittingham Elementary School
played in the elementary tournament. Claymont Boeing had a great event, they were ranked 24th in their division. Sadly they missed the top 22 team playoff by 2 points. H. O. Brittingham and Claymont Tesla didn’t fare as well, they were both in the bottom 25%.

In the middle school tournament

50100A Dark Side Robotics Dark Side Robotics

Dark Side had lots of fun but ended up 64 out of 82.

National Robotics Week 2019

National Robotics Week (RoboWeek) is a series of grassroots events and activities during the month of April aimed at increasing public awareness of the strength and importance of the U.S. robotics industry and of the tremendous social and cultural impact that robotics will have on the future. Activities come in all shapes and sizes from a robot block party, university open house, or a robotics competition. The mission of RoboWeek is simple — to inspire students in STEM-related fields and to share the excitement of robotics with audiences of all ages.

This year National Robotics week this year is April 6-14/

Do something robotics this week!

Mia – the new Girl Power Robot

STEM Robotics does a lot of community out reach. One of our areas of focus is getting more girls into STEM, specifically robotics. We try to have a buildable robot for them to use and take home with them.

The people at the Robot Education Foundation with the Girl Scouts have created “Mia”. We will be using Mia in all of our outreach. There are about 140 pieces and takes about an hour to assemble. Mia is rubber band powered and goes about 10-12 feet.

If you are interested in sponsoring a program (especially if you are a Girl Scout leader) please contact Foster Schucker. (The parts are pretty small, so you should target for 4th graders up and estimate about a 90 min session).

Delmarva Extravaganza Results

The phrase “3 – 2 – 1 Go!” rang out 318 times in the Springer Middle School on Saturday March 23 as 163 Roboteers played “Next Level” with their VEXIQ robots. The event is the largest robotics event in the Delmarva area. Teams came from the nine elementary schools in the Brandywine School District, New Castle County Libraries Robotics programs, Charter School of New Castle and a home schooled team.

The event started at 9AM with Foster Schucker, Chief Roboteer of STEM Robotics welcoming everyone to the event. Kristin Haroldsdottir, William Savage, Zoe Rawheiser, all sophomore clarinetist at Mt Pleasant High School played the Star Spangled Banner. Josh Lesser the Science Division announcer introduced State Representatives Debra Heffernan and Krista Giffith along with State Senator Laura Sturgeon, who all gave short remarks about the importance of STEM programs.

In honor of Women’s History Month, all 8 of the fields were named after famous women in Science (see below).

Promptly at 9:30 AM dual “3 – 2 – 1 Go” started off the qualification rounds in the Science and Math divisions. Each team would play 14 qualification matches across the day. Teams are paired randomly and with 14 matches robots get to play with a wide variety of teams.

Mid-morning, Delaware Governor John Carney arrived and spent the next two hours talking to roboteers and parents. He watched quite a few teams play and said he was impressed with the skills on display.

Throughout the day John Penrod from the Delaware State police demoed their Bomb Robot. It’s very agile, it was able to reach up and stack hubs on the field. Very deft handling. The roboteers were enthralled with the demos that he did on moving around and picking things up.

Roboteers were not the only people showing their best, the Springer Family Association served up an amazing variety of foods from hotdogs, mac & cheese, cheese fries, pizza with a huge selection of drinks, snacks and candy.

After lunch the roboteers played another 74 total matches as they battled to become the best teams in their divisions. Repairs were made, improvements were added and driving skills got better as the day continued.

Senator Tom Carper arrived to kick off the finals rounds at 2:30 PM. The top 20 teams representing both Math and Science Divisions were paired off with a final chance to prove they were the best.

Tournament Teamwork Awards — Final Standings

  • Teamwork Champions: Claymont Tesla, Claymont Boeing – 23 Points
  • Teamwork Second Place: Lombardy Tesla, Hanby Beetles – 16 Points
  • Teamwork Third Place: Claymont Kaloke, Lombardy Google – 15 Points
  • Teamwork Fourth Place: Rt 9 Libary Savage,Lanashire Gazelles – 13 Points
  • Teamwork Fifth Place: Lancashire Big Termites, Forwood Octopus – 12 Points
  • Teamwork Sixth Place: Lombardy Amazon, Carrcroft Tiny Turtles, Claymont MIT, Claymont Pixar, Maple Lane Rocky, Rt 9 Library Newton
  • Teamwork Ninth Place: Forwood Sharks, Mt Pleasant Bomb Squad
  • Teamwork Tenth Place: Mt Pleasant Slim Shady, Mt Pleasant Fluffy Unicorns

(A note, Claymont Kaloke and Lancashire Google robots were ranked in ninth place before their amazing leap to third place!)

At the end of the finals, Senator Carper got a driving lesson from the two Delaware Teams that are going to the VEXIQ World Championship in April 2019. He drove with Noah, Ellington, Anthony and Aarush. He managed to score the all important 4 point High Hang! Good luck to Claymont Boeing and Claymont Tesla at Worlds!

Other Awards that were given out at the Extravaganza:

  • Amaze Award: The all girl Hanby Hornets showcased their unique lift linkage and 3 motor H-Drive. The H-drive gives “Hornet” the ability to move left and right without turning
  • Build Award: Claymont Lenovo caught the judges eye with their 4 bar arm that was coupled with a scoop that would wrangle two of the Hubs
  • Volunteer of the Year: Stacy Karpinski – Stacy has been a key person in planning for smaller events like PS DuPont VIQ, the dual High School and Middle School VRC event, along with planning and execution of the showcase Delmarva Extravaganza!

This is the second year for the Delmarva Extravaganza, the event keeps getting better and better. Lot of people helped:

  • Event Planning: Stacy Karpinski, Michelle Kutch, Jackie Chesworth, Omar Reid and Foster Schucker
  • Division Management: John Kain, Steve Rhoads – Math Division, Heather Handler, Foster Schucker – Science Division
  • Event Announcers: Josh Lesser – Science and Finals, Paul Kutch – Math
  • Springer Middle School: Tracy Woodson and Omar Reid
  • Friday night setup: Will Elmore, Louis Mays, Khawja Ahmed, Abu Shaeed, Linc Hohler
  • Saturday support and cleanup: Will Elmore, Ted Marakowski, Khawja Ahmed, Armuda Armuda, Linc Hohler
  • Queue managers: Honor Society Students from Mt Pleasant, Concord, and PS DuPont
  • Volunteer food: Brandywine High Culinary Arts Students (Note from the author, this is the first event where the food was amazing. Bagels with smears, and juice for breakfast, lunch of three kinds of cold cuts, cheeses, amazing rolls, chips, cookies and drinks!!)
  • Scorekeepers and Referees: Jason Heller, Chris Lake, Donna Janicki, Marissa Janicki, Becky Glenn, Zack Flowers, Matt Janicki, Ruthanne Dion, Daniel dePersia, Mairi Moore
  • Event Support Team: Kay Hossler, Patty Staker, Greg Xenakes, Joni Ciolko, Dana Geisenbeger, Jen Xenakes, Kay Hossler, John DeSilva, Ann Hall Netferdorf, Michelle Hossler
  • VIP escorts: Mark Holodick- Superintendent, Cora Scott, Director of Elementary Education and Cary Riches, Director of Curriculum
  • Scoring, event management hardware and computers: STEM Robotics
  • Last moment Assembly and fixing stuff we forgot: Linc Hohler

Thanks to all the parents, teachers and librarians that mentored teams this year, it’s a very long 6 month season. You are making a huge difference to the roboteers.

A super thanks for all the parent that came to the event and got your roboteer from build sessions and to the many events. (Each team played at 3 events, some played at 4). Without your support there would not be a robotics program.

Field names:

  • Rebecca Lee Crumpler — First African American Female to Earn an MD
  • Katherine Johnson — Math wizard NASA Apollo Mission, was key in figuring out the orbital dynamics
  • Mae Carol Jemison — American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel in space when she served as an astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
  • Rosalind Franklin — English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, and viruses
  • Ada Lovelace — English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.
  • Chien-Shinug Wu — Chinese-American experimental physicist who made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium metal into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.
  • Dian Fossey — American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups starting in 1966. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda.
  • Grace Hopper — American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first languages COBOL.

Delmarva VEXIQ Extravaganza

The Brandywine School District will host the largest VEX IQ robotics tournament on the Delmarva Peninsula this weekend, bringing together teams from school districts in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania as well as Delaware Library Maker Space teams. Of the 49 teams that are scheduled to participate, 38 are from BSD’s nine elementary schools.

The VEXIQ Extravaganza tournament will be held at Springer Middle School, 2220 Shipley Road in Wilmington, on Saturday, March 23. The first match will begin at 9 a.m., and the finals should be held at approximately 2:45-3:00 p.m., with awards following at 3:30 p.m. Approximately 200 students, most in grades 4 and 5, will compete.

Two very special guests will join the roboteers on Saturday. Governor John Carney is scheduled to visit at 11 a.m. to mingle with the students during competition and offer words of encouragement. At 2:45 p.m., U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester will pay a visit. Prior to the final match of the tournament, she and Cora Scott, BSD Executive Director of Elementary Education, will pair up to play a Teamwork Challenge match against the top-scoring student team as a way to encourage more young women to pursue studies, hobbies, and careers in STEM-related fields. As neither the Congresswoman nor Ms. Scott have any VEX robotics experience, they will receive a short tutorial from students prior to their match.

VEX IQ is the elementary arm of VEX Robotics. Teams of students build robots using the engineering design process: Ask (identify and research a problem), Imagine (develop possible solutions), Plan (select a promising solution), Create (build and test a prototype), and Improve (redesign as needed). The student-built robots are then put to the test in competition. This year’s challenge is called Next Level and involves alliances of teams working together to move and stack pieces on a large playing board to earn points, as well as a timed robot skills challenge.

The Brandywine School District introduced VEX IQ programming in 2017. Students that participated benefited from improved mathematics performance, increased classroom focus, and positive behavior. The following year, the program doubled in size. All Brandywine School District elementary buildings have a robotics program that is supported by teachers, parents, and administrators. BSD’s program is now the largest VEX IQ program in the State of Delaware. Three BSD teams have qualified for the VEX World Championships this spring – two from Claymont Elementary School and one from Springer Middle School.