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New Deal Robotics Teams Place in TCEA Area Contest

March 4, 2014

The Advanced Inventions Team won first place and the Advanced Arena Team won second place in the January Texas Computer Education Association Area 17 Contest this year at Lubbock High School and will advanced to State competition in Houston April 11-13.

New Deal Advanced Arena Team The Advanced Arena competition provides teams with a prescribed problem; this year's challenge theme was "Rubble Trouble." The New Deal team members were Chris Mendez (team captain), Nicole Scarbrough, and Brianna Bell. Chris Mendez said, "The competition was based on a national disaster." Nicole and Brianna added that "one goal was to put FAMs (food and medicine) in the warehouse for safety." Students used robots on a game board that simulated an urban search and rescue environment. They removed debris and moved pillars and FAMs into a zone on the board representing a warehouse. Mr. Upchurch said teams were given the board layout and rules in advance so that they could create robots and practice with them before the competition. The students all enjoyed the competition and hope to participate again next year.

New Deal Advanced Inventions TeamThe Advanced Invention competition asks teams to identify a problem and then collaboratively design and create a robot that will solve that problem. The team members were Tori Roberts (team captain), Nikki Baca, Chandler Neinast, and Jacob Blanco. The teams present their research and demonstrate their robot's design and ability to perform. Tori, the team agreed, came up with the idea for a robotic Office Pet that would deliver supplies and other items to disabled teachers and students. Tori said, "The team used trial and error to create the robot." They had some problems making the robot stable so that it wouldn't tip over. Nikki said, "We used the engineering design process to create and test the robot." Jacob, who will be a medical ambassador for the state of Texas this year, said that the competition "helped us learn to interact with a team and collaborate." The team also showcased their marketing and presentation skills. This was their first year to compete.

Rocky Upchurch, who teaches pre-calculus, algebra 2, and engineering at New Deal High School coached the teams. All students plan to attend college; Tori plans to major in mechanical engineering. All the students feel that learning to collaborate will be beneficial in their educational and professional lives. Mr. Upchurch said, "The students learn teamwork by participating in these competitions; they learn to share ideas and work out differences, just as they will have to do in the real world."

Congratulations to the New Deal High School teams for all their hard work. Getting awards in your first year of competition is a great accomplishment!

Contributed by Debra Nash, Associate Director, Texas Tech T-STEM Center, Lubbock, TX