The 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:
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: