Staff and students wedged themselves into a classroom at Manassas Christian School Wednesday morning to see an award-winning robot in action.
Roughly 50 Kindergarten students from area Minnieland Academies and 10 staff members got to see “Oddball” put through his paces. Everyone applauded as Oddball knocked over a pyramid, dropped a ball into a hoop and spun in a circle.
Seven Manassas Christian students recently competed in the Vex Robotics World Championship in Anaheim, CA. It was the first time students from the school joined more than 150 other school groups to compete for recognition in robotics.
“We didn’t place very high in the competition,” said Brian Weedon who is in charge of the robotics group and class. “But we learned a lot and we are already planning a new robot design for next year.”
Before competing in the Vex Middle School World Championship in California, the Manassas Christian “Steel Lions” competed against 54 local teams in the Central Divisional competition and 48 opponents in the Prince William County School Roboticon competition.
“We are so proud of our team,” said Linda Bare, Manassas Christian School principal. “We have gotten great feedback from the kids and the parents.”
Bare went on to say that Manassas Christian tries to stay on the cutting edge of innovations in education starting at the preschool level. Manassas Christian is the only school in Prince William County that offers robotics as a course, not just an afterschool club, Bare said.
Manassas Christian student, Gianna Casolara sat in front of the robot arena and explained to the kindergarten students what happens during competition and how the robot works.
“Our robot uses a vacuum to suck up the balls and hold them in place until we release the vacuum and the ball drops into the hoop,” Gianna said. “Robotics is all about math and science, so it really helps you out in school.”
Next year, the students plan to compete again. They have more advanced robotic designs in mind and hope to place higher in the Vex competition.
“We have such a wonderful family unit here. Everyone chipped in to raise $9,600 for our robotics team to go to California,” Bare said. “I think a lot of our younger students are looking forward to taking part in the program in years to come.”