2016 marks the second year since the Jones Elementary Robotic Team formed. The team consists of eight 5th and 6th graders: Hallie Curry, Joey Duran, Cate Hargrave, Brooklyn Harmon, Connor Hatley, Gabriel Riker, Zain Shalabi and Joseph Uc.
“Last year was the first time that we had a team, so all the kids are relatively new to this,” said Dolly De La Garza, instructional coach and robotics sponsor at Jones Elementary. “We do not have any outside help or parent volunteers with our robots.”
Their robot of choice this year was a Clawbot from Vex. The students did make a few modifications to help with the objective of the 2016 Rockwall ISD Robotics Competition.
But two weeks before the competition, their robots were vandalized. Someone broke into the portable building where they were stored and did damage to the robots. The robots had to be rebuilt, which took time they didn’t have. The team was only scheduled to meet one more time before the competition, and they still had to learn how to drive and operate the robot on top of rebuilding it.
“Many of the students thought there would be no way that we could rebuild in the short amount of time that we had,” said Garza. “I knew they could do it if I could get them to focus their time and energy in the right direction.”
The students rose to the occasion and used every extra moment they had during school to work on the robot. Several even gave up their earned “Fun Friday” activities to work on the robot. They were finally able to get it rebuilt the day before the competition.
Since it was down to the wire, they only had 45 minutes of total drive time for the entire team.
The day of the competition the team took every extra minute they had when they were not competing to continue practicing drive time. They met with other teams to discuss strategies before each competition. This was how they built their alliances and it worked. Each member knew the areas where they were strong or weak, and they used this in their strategies with other teams.
After the first round, they were in first place, and remained in first for pretty much the entire competition. The kids were so pumped up!
By the end of the day, they won first place with Amy Parks Elementary as their alliance team.
Both schools received the Teamwork Champion Award.
“I love the concept of learning how to work together as an alliance rather than competing against each other,” said Garza. “Throughout this whole experience, the students learned a great lesson about overcoming adversity.”
Pictured: Joey Duran, Connor Hatley, Zain Shalabi, Joseph Uc, Cate Hargrave, Brooklyn Harmon. Not pictured: Hallie Curry and Gabriel Riker.