MATTAWA — The three Wahluke Junior High robotics teams competed in state competitions the past two weekends. One of the two sixth-grade VEX IQ teams finished sixth. The seventh- and eighth-grade VEX EDR team finished in a tie for eighth place.
Wahluke Junior High has two robotics clubs that are divided into sixth grade and seventh and eighth grades. Sixth-graders compete in VEX IQ robotic competitions.
Nathan Benfield, Wahluke Junior High robotics coach and TSA advisor, said that there is a learning curve to get into robotics. VEX IQ robotics is an introduction to robotics that allows beginners to learn basic skills before advancing to the more difficult robots.
Seventh and eighth-grade robotics students compete in VEX EDR. In this competition, robots play a game where they try to get make everything in the game to the same color as their team.
Both groups of students have opportunities to drive their robots, as well as program them to run autonomously.
“We have a summer camp during the summer,” said Benfield, who coaches the robotics team along with Adam Fields. “The game gets released in April every year. A lot of the kids have been working on robotics since the summer. We go to competitions over the school year. The sixth-grade teams qualified for state by winning a tournament in Walla Walla. There were teams from all over the state competing. From the state competition, the top three qualify to go to the World Championships in Kentucky. We haven’t made it there, but we are only getting stronger.”
The robotics teams will be competing again in March in a different type of competition called TSA. If they win, they would be able to go on to nationals in Washington D.C.
Rachal Pinkerton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.