VEX IQ Robotics Workshop with Paul Roland Maiquez
YCIS has its very own Scientist-in-Residence (SIR) programme. Recently the SIR team hosted an exciting interactive VEX IQ Robotics Workshop with Paul Roland Maiquez for our Year 4 - 8 students. Mr. Maiquez, an expert in the field put our students through their paces and introduced them to the exciting world of VEX IQ Robotics. Paul started the VEX IQ Robotics programme in Chadwick International School in Korea. Since then, his robotics team has joined and won several VEX Robotics competitions in Asia and the United States. Paul spoke to us about the workshop and shared his experience and advice for students who want to get more involved in robotics.
What did the students build in the robotics workshop?
Students were working with VEX IQ robotic kits. They were building the standard design ― the "Clawbot". The process of building the robot itself already helps teach students the process of designing, planning, building, and programming. After this, students should engage in reflection to evaluate their process and see where they can make improvements.
What are the benefits of the workshop?
The activities involved in robotics projects are direct applications of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts. Students were building the robots to learn more about robotics in general, and to practice real-world skills of communication, collaboration, hypothesizing, testing, evaluating, revising, etc. The benefits of the workshop include the following:
- hands-on, practical application of what students learn in STEM classes
- providing an alternative activity for students who have an interest in STEM-related fields
- providing an alternative activity for students who might not engage in sports, music, or other extra-curricular activities
- practical application of real-world skills
- learning more about robotics
- time to work with others in building robots
What projects are you and your school team working on at the moment?
Our students are currently preparing their robots for the VEX Robotics Formosa National Competition 2016 in Taipei, Taiwan ― December 1 to 4, 2016. We are taking five teams ― 20 students from Grades 6 through 12. We currently have 30 teams though in the school with 126 students taking part from Grades 3 to 12.
What competitions have you entered recently?
Our students recently competed at the VEX Robotics Tokyo National Competition 2016 held at the American School in Japan (ASIJ). We brought four teams to the competition. One of our teams (team # 6724) were the Tournament Champions (together with two other teams in a 3-team alliance).
What tips do you have for students who want to get more involved in robotics?
Just jump in and try it out. VEX IQ is very easy to start with, but you can come up with complex robot designs. Programming is easy, yet you can delve into more complicated programming as you get better in building and programming robots. Don't be afraid -- just try it. Keep in mind however that if you want to come up with really good robots for a competition, you will need to put in time and effort into your robot building process ― just like anything else in life.
What are the benefits of entering international robotics competitions?
Competitive robotics is very engaging for students because of the "game quality" of the robotics challenges. With the VEX system (VEX IQ and VEX EDR), the annual games make the process of designing and building robots something exciting and challenging for the students at the same time. Students spend a lot of time planning and building their robots. They want their robots to win in competitions. If they don't succeed, they go back to their design and make improvements.
How do you see the future of robotics at YCIS?
Students at Yew Chung are brilliant and talented. As a school, you have the capital and the capacity to have world-class robotics teams. You can extend this interest in robotics by bringing robotics kits into classes as tools to express creativity and application of STEM concepts. Students learn more as they do ― they can work on designing simple robots that will perform certain tasks and then build them to test their hypotheses. It’s great to see that your Scientist-in-Residence and Science departments have already collaborated to organise a Robotics Club this year. Besides learning a new skill, robotics is also a valuable experience for students to learn how to work together as a team and to share ideas.