Jenison Robotics Recap

13879193_518502558354595_1452843078217319306_nThe Jenison High School gyms were bursting at the seams on Saturday, January 12. Although there were no basketballs bouncing or wrestling mats on the ground, the energy was undeniable as the Jenison Robotics team proudly played host to 80 teams from around the area for a Vex Robot Competition (VRC). The January Jenison Tournament wraps up the regular competition schedule for this year.

Since starting 5 years ago, the growth of the Jenison robotics program has been outstanding and we’re glad to see another successful season. The students are forging lasting friendships, and growing in confidence as they work as teammates and persevere through adversity. Together, the teams have taken home 25 awards, including an Innovate Award, multiple Design Awards, Excellence Awards, and four tournament champions.

The Jenison Robotics program is open to students in grades 4-12. And while they are busy with fun, hands-on experiments – they are really putting into practice complex concepts, like the trade off between speed and power, how friction coefficients can affect performance, or learning how to design and utilize systems with compound gearing. Students are clearly learning and practicing helpful skills they can take with them into their future. Adam Timmer, president of the Jenison Robotics Board of Directors, and the many parent volunteers, have a goal for the students and adult volunteers that join the program. They work together to allow the student to join where they are at. The robotics arena is a great place for them practice their talents and skills, and also learn new ones. Some of the robotics students have even been 3D modeling parts and then 3D printing those parts. Jenison Robotics is currently fundraising to provide the students access to a 3D printer.

This year, there are 18 elementary teams, participating in the VEX IQ program. Among these teams, they have won 16 awards so far this season and we’re proud to see 6 elementary teams qualify for the State Championship next month. The Jr. High and High School teams have had breakout success this season. Monroe Community College is hosting Michigan’s Middle School State VRC Championship in March and five of the nine Jenison Junior High teams have earned their way there. The seven Jenison High School robotics teams have worked hard throughout the year and have one team currently headed to the state championship competition at Michigan State University.

It will be a tough field of competing teams, but the Jension teams headed to the state championships have their sights set on earning an invitation to the VEX Robotics World Championship (held in Louisville, Kentucky this spring).

As an educator, it intrigues me and gives me a such pride to watch all the intricacies of this volunteer/mentor-run program. By its nature, the study of competitive robotics not only encompasses all four pillars of STEM education, but also encourages important life skills like teamwork, communication, and project-based organization.

I just know that the future of America is in great hands with these budding engineers. Stay tuned to the Jenison Robotics website or the Jenison Robotics Facebook page to follow their progress as they wrap up their season. Good Luck Wildcats!!

Meet Jenison Robotics Junior High team 457A:

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They have won two tournaments, the “Innovate Award” at a third event, and with a tournament win they were the first Jenison team to qualify for the State Championship this 2018-19 season. Team members, Devon, Cora, Ethan and Peyton have pretty diverse interests with band, orchestra, football, and playing guitar. When it comes to robotics, they come together to create a solid team that gets the job done. Devon strives to keep the team improving continually. Cora keeps the team’s engineering notebook on track. Ethan programs the robot to make sure the “hunk of metal” they built is a smart hunk of metal. Besides driving the robot, Peyton scouts the competition and helps develop strategy for the team.

More exciting JPS Robotics and STEM news:

The Mechanics of Jenison Robotics – 2016 Blog Post

Jenison Receives Portion of State Grant for Robotics

Jenison High Schoolers Start “GIRLS IN STEM” Club

 

 

The Mechanics of Jenison Robotics

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If the world of Robotics is as mysterious to you as the inner workings of a space launch, fear not, we’re here to help get you caught up!
To start you off, a quick vocabulary lesson:
VRC = Vex Robotic Competition
VEX IQ = Jenison’s Robotics program for 4 – 6 graders
Alliance:  When two teams are randomly matched and must work together in competition.
Jenison Robotics = “Jenison Robotics was formed to help support robotics and other STEM activities that aim to inspire and motivate students. We stage team based robotics contests where students learn to participate in a fun, enriching, and worthwhile experience.” [courtesy of Jenison Robotics website]
124Now that you’re in the loop, it’s important to know that for Jenison Robotics to be part of the VRC means that we are in good company with more than 12,000 teams from 33 countries playing in over 1,000 tournaments worldwide. It is the largest and fastest growing middle school and high school robotics program globally and VEX IQ programs are designed around the sports competition model.

According to Adam Timmer, Jr High Robotics Coach and Mentor, “This brings the fun and excitement of competition and transfers it into a program that gets students excited about science, mathematics, and innovation. Each new yearly season brings a new and exciting game with a new challenge for the students to solve with new game pieces for the robots to manipulate.”

In preparation for their competitions, Jenison Robotics forms teams of about 4 students each. “The students on these teams work together to design and build their robot, as well as drive it in competitions. The teams meet once or twice a week for two hours and volunteer mentors/coaches are assigned to each team to keep an eye on the teams and help point them in the right direction to find the answers when the students are looking for solutions to challenges, but the students do all the work. Most Jenison Robotics teams will compete in a five event league that competes every other week, and then in two Saturday tournaments. Teams start a few weeks after school begins in the fall, and for most teams their last competition will be the second week in January.”

134This month, Jenison High School played host to 46 teams from around the state! Throughout the competition the students must work within their alliances and compete against another alliance on a 12′ by 12′ field play in a two minute match, trying to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance. Their goal is to move balls from the playing field surface into a low goal [for 1 point each ball] or a high goal net [for 5 points each].

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“The most important attributes for a student needs to excel in this robotics program is a willingness to learn and to be part of a team. This program is exciting because we see all types of students enjoying and excelling in these robotics programs… from the “mathlete”, to the athlete. We’ve even had parent of students that have ADHD, excited to tell us their student loves the hands-on learning found in our robotics program.” 


In addition to learning valuable engineering skills, students gain life skills such as teamwork, perseverance, communication, collaboration, project management, and critical thinking. The VEX Robotics Competition prepares students to become future innovators with 95% of participants reporting an increased interest in STEM subject areas and pursuing STEM-related careers.

Congratulations to the Jenison Robotics teams as well as all of the competing teams at this month’s tournament! It is thrilling to see our STEM subjects show real life application with passionate students!

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