Oakbrook's three VEX robotics teams have each qualified for the world competition in Louisville, KY, April 19-22. Greenville, TX, based VEX Robotics, through Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation, organizes competition among more than 16,000 teams world-wide, the largest of its type. REC describes their vision this way: “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.”
Oakbrook Prep’s full support for STEM (science, technology, electronics and mathematics) at all grade levels is self-evident. To the best of our knowledge, Oakbrook is the only private school in South Carolina to compete in VEX robotics. One or the other of their two high school teams (8926 & 8926B) has won every SC state competition entered this academic year. The two teams together, allied with Pickens team 7447A, handily won the SC state championship in Columbia on Saturday, March 11, in a field of 61 of this state’s best. Oakbrook’s senior team, 8926, went undefeated in 10 matches that day. The Oakbrook-Pickens alliance was so dominant there was never a third round in the best two out of three final elimination rounds. These teams will move on to VEX World’s. (Team 8926 is so strong they actually qualified for World’s three times by different routes. This may be unprecedented.)
Simply earning entry to the VEX World’s Championship is an honor, as VEX teams world-wide compete for a slot at the Kentucky International Exposition Center. At the high school level alone, this 4-day, prestigious event hosts 500 of the best international teams. (Last year China sent 53 teams to World’s.) It’s the best of the best. Total event attendance including support staff and families is about 14,000, filling the Expo Center’s adjacent coliseum.
Also on Saturday, March 11th, Oakbrook’s new elementary school VEX robotics team entered their first competition. Because there are still so few elementary school robotics teams, the Oakbrook team had to compete with the older students from SC middle schools. Even so, they came in 2nd place in this state-wide event, and so impressed the judges they were given the Excellence Award, thus earning this young team entry in VEX World’s also.
Finally, Oakbrook Robotics team members Elva Yang and Suzanna (“LuLu”) Lu, had together entered and won a REC on-line, photo-journalism essay contest about females competing in robotics. They will be honored on stage at VEX World’s.