Lockport Township High School District 205 is pleased to announce that students from the district’s Robotics Club who qualified for the Vex Robotics Illinois State Championship earlier this month, two of the club’s four robotics teams secured a spot at the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation VEX Robotics World Championship that will be held in Dallas, Texas on April 25-27.
The Robotics Club took part in the Illinois VEX Robotics State Championship Competition that took place at Millikin University in Decatur, IL on March 10 and March 11. Two of the club’s four robotics teams made it to the state playoff and competed against 51 of the best teams from across the State of Illinois. The action-packed, two-day event required high school students to execute the 2022-2023 VEX Robotics Competition game, Spin Up presented by the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation.
The competition was a great success for the LTHS teams. Team 60441A was the recipient of the Think Award, awarded to the team at the state championship with the best software programming and robot autonomous control. This award qualified the team for the VEX Robotics World Championship. Team 60441B also qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship due to its high state ranking at the end of the competition. The VEX Robotics World Championship, sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, will be held in Dallas, Texas on April 25-27 and will showcase the best high school robotics teams from more than 45 countries.
The LTHS Robotics Club is made up of nearly 40 students aged from freshman to senior students. To prepare for the season, groups of students worked together to design, build, and program robots that could quickly and efficiently solve specific challenges that come with playing Spin Up.
Since the summer, students met multiple times in a week and have applied what they have learned about STEM in the classroom to build semi-autonomous machines. An equally important set of skills is learned through the competition — communication, project management, time management, and teamwork.
Mr. Kevin Conway, LTHS Media Specialist and one of the team’s advisors said, “I’m most proud of the way the teams have handled adversity and worked in collaboration. They have had to rely on each other’s strengths to be stronger as a team. Their innovation and creativity has guided them in
their learning, and their growth throughout the season is evident. Making it to Worlds is pretty cool too!”
The team’s other advisor, Dan Mostyn, is a STEM and Robotics teacher at LTHS. He added, “A majority of the students in the Robotic Club had no prior experience in robotics before we started the season. To see their skills and confidence grow over the past six months has been amazing and has made it a joy to be their coach.”
LTHS VEX Robotics Competition team meets three to four times per week for a majority of the school year. LTHS also offers an Engineering Robotics class in which students learn about electronics, programming, mechanical systems, and the engineering design process. Several members of the club also currently are enrolled in the class or plan to take the class before they graduate.
Senior Matthew Handzel, who will be attending the University of Illinois Champaign in the fall to study Computer Science, credits robotics as a source of skill building and confidence. “Because of robotics, I was able to intern at a company that worked on developing new types of car engines,” Matt said. “I used the same concepts that I learned in robotics while in the field.” Matt also reflected on the friends he has made, “The club all works together to design solutions around the problems we are given. I have learned so much from the people in the club and I have made friendships that I will hold for the rest of my life.”
The following students from LTHS will be traveling to Dallas to represent Lockport Township High School District 205 for the Vex World Championship event: Klaudia Babel, Matthew Handzel, Brian Sagon, David Krzysiak, Victor Cieslak-Kaczmarczyk, Krista Wojcikiewicz, Patricia Jurzyk, Jack Thies, Colton Witzig, Anthony Ochoa, Eric Hernandez, Maximus Nuth, Matthew Dillon, Alexander Roberts, and Caden Tantayakom-Sullivan.
Additionally through a new LTHS club called Club Create, sophomores Kaitlyn Flynn and Ollie Evans have been filming and producing a documentary that has followed the Lockport Robotics teams this year and their journey to the Vex World Championships. These two rising stars in the media world will also travel with the team to document their journey. Look for the documentary to be released on the LTHS Club Create YouTube page in late 2023.
The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation manages the VEX Robotics Competition, which thousands of schools participate in around the world each year. Dan Mantz, CEO of the REC Foundation, said, “As an experienced robotics mentor, I’ve seen firsthand the engineering skill and
leadership expertise that students gain by participating in the VEX Robotics Competition. It’s an experience that will stay with them long after their school days are over, offering a new appreciation for STEM and laying a strong foundation of critical problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.”