Four elementary school students recently took home the top award from the 2017 VEX Robotics World Championship after competing against more than 300 teams from around the world.
In April, the Shiloh Point Elementary School robotics team, which consists of Charu Bigamudra, Sanjana Saravanan, Eshita Ramesh and Siddhanth Lakshmisha, traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, where more than 1,400 teams at the elementary, middle and high school levels competed for the title of world champion.
Though the elementary level made up only about a fifth of the overall number of teams, Saravanan Yoganandam, one of Shiloh Point’s coaches, said the win was particularly special for the school.
“We were only founded in May 2016,” he said, “and what started as a fun thing then moved to competition after competition. The kids show a lot of passion, interest and drive to learn and they [demonstrate] a total commitment to [the team].”
Yoganandam said while the team initially lost several local tournaments last summer, in October, the students won their first competition, which qualified them for the state level competition, which was held in February.
There, they won the state championship, which qualified them for the most recent tournament event.
“Again, it was a surprise,” Yoganandam said. “It’s only their first year as a team, so we didn’t expect them to win, but they did extremely well.
“At the state [competition], they won the Elementary Excellence Award, the top award in the state.”
The world championship, which was held April 20-25, was a “celebration of STEM education, the year-long work of each student-led robotics team and diversity in the high-tech field of competitive robotics,” Yoganandam said.
He added the championship has four categories: the VEX IQ Challenge Elementary School World Championship for those ages 8-10; the VEX IQ Challenge Middle School World Championship for those ages 11-14; VEX Robotics High School World Championship; and VEX U, which is for those ages 18 and up.
Yoganandam said he hopes the wins will encourage more students to join the team.
“It was such a big honor for the kids,” he said, “and one thing we are very proud of is there is a lot of hard work and commitment. There are only four students but each has a very unique strength they bring to the table.
“They agree to agree and agree to disagree, and that’s something they learn and that most schools don’t teach —something they learn through [this] and really invaluable. We want more to get involved.”