(left to right) Isaac Parsons, Nathan Eisses, teacher Kevin Criez, Addison Getz in front of their state trophies

The robotics team of Sehome High School juniors Nathan Eisses, Addison Getz and Isaac Parsons placed second in the VEX Washington State championships in March qualifying them to compete in the 2022 Vex World Championships in Dallas, Texas this May. The competition in May is the largest student robotics event in the world where 800 teams from 50 countries compete against each other, according to Sehome’s technology teacher Kevin Criez.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for these students,” Criez says, “and it’s also a great incentive to all of the Vex teams in our district to strive towards higher levels.”

This year’s VRC game is called Tipping Point and takes place on a 12 x 12 foot field where the object of the game is to get more points overall achieved with a variety of maneuvers on the field.. Watch this descriptive video for details of this year’s challenge.

According to Addison (Addi) Getz, the Sehome team’s competition wasn’t all smooth sailing to second place. Addi recounts a harrowing moment when their robot needed some repairs in the middle of the tournament.

“I think one of the more stressful moments was when a motor from our robot got ripped out during a match,” she says, “and we had to scramble to find and install a replacement before the start of the semifinals.”

Despite that momentary setback, the team continued to do well at each level. We all have different moments that made us realize we were doing well,” Addi continued. “For Nathan it was when we finished prelims in 6th seed. For Isaac it was when we got picked by the 2nd seed team to be partners for finals. And for me it was when we won our quarterfinals match.”

Ultimately, the Sehome team came in second place statewide.

Not resting on their laurels, Addi, Nathan and Isaac have continued to improve their robot preparing for the next level of competition in Texas next month. They have worked on modifications for an improved model of their forklift and the beginnings of a new four bar lift for the opposite end of the robot.

Summing up the anticipation of the VEX Worlds Championship for the team, Addi shared that some of the best things about tournaments is the networking, relationship-building and inspiration that takes place at them. “We are super excited to meet the other teams competing at Worlds and to get to know more people that share our passion for robotics,” she says. “We’ve become friends with other teams at almost every tournament we’ve been in this season and are excited to see who we will meet at Worlds.”

“We are also excited to see the other robots competing; it’s always fascinating to see what ideas other teams have been able to implement, the Vex robotics programs allows for so much freedom and creativity that you rarely see the same complex design twice.”

Vex robotics programs are currently at Bellingham, Sehome and Squalicum with more than 100 students enrolled. Vex IQ is being started in the middle schools. According to Criez robotics is a growing STEM program with a great future in the district.

Middle school students excel at the 2022 Washington Technology Student Association conference

In recent middle school competitions, technology students at Shuksan and Whatcom Middle School also excelled and demonstrated they are skilled users of technology.

Shuksan Middle School sixth graders Avery Neem and Reid Hals won second place in their category of Website Design at the 2022 Washington Technology Student Association (WTSA) conference in mid-March. In addition, seventh grader Dylan Sager of Whatcom Middle School placed third in his category of STEM animation at the same WTSA conference. A link to his work can be found here.

Both Avery and Reid at Shuksan and Dylan at Whatcom are invited to the national competition in Texas in late June 2022.

Jennifer Hento, CTE teacher at Shuksan was impressed with the focus and hard work her TSA students Avery and Reid demonstrated, especially being new to the club this year as sixth graders. She shared this year’s theme in their category was to create a website for a cultural events venue. The Shuksan team highlighted the Chinese New Year as the example cultural event.

“I am super excited to see what they will work on for next year,” Hento says. “We start to prep for next year’s TSA projects in May.”

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