With the contributions from our sponsors and the support of our parents last year we were able to add seven new computers, a second competition field, and an electronic scoring system. These purchases will be used in years to come and they allow us to host tournaments. Being able to host events gives our teams more competition opportunity and it raises funds from outside registration fees and concession sales.
How are the funds used?
The majority of the funds received are used to purchase robotic parts and tools for the students and to cover the cost of tournament registration. Our coaches, mentors, and support staff are all volunteers and our facility is provided by Hudsonville Public Schools.
In the 2016-17 season we supported 65 middle and high school students on 16 Vex EDR teams. They earned 40 awards, nine teams competed in the regional tournament, seven competed in the state tournament, and four competed in the world tournament. We also piloted a VexIQ program for elementary school students with 25 students on five teams. Two IQ teams competed at the state finals.
We have now started the 2017-18 season with almost 100 students in our middle and high school program on 20 VexEDR teams. We have expanded our elementary program to 45 students on 12 VexIQ teams.
The cost per team starts at about $1,000 per year and increases as teams succeed. A world championship qualifying team will cost about $3,500. As the program grows we are able to reuse parts so that helps us keep costs down but event registrations and repairs are a regular expense. We do charge each student a registration fee but that typically covers the team’s event registration cost for the standard season. Providing the opportunity for our teams to make it to the regional, state, and world championships is mostly due to the generosity of our sponsors.
Students are placed on teams of four or five students to build one robot. The teams are kept small so everyone has an opportunity to contribute. They have a standard library of parts and sensors that are used to design, build and program a robot to compete on a field with other robots in a timed event. No instruction book is provided – students have to create their own engineering notebook – and adults are not allowed to contribute. Mentors and coaches are available to help teams figure out the answers to their questions.
Now some designs are successful while others are not. This competition model inspires students continuously improve their robot. They perform research and collaborate with other teams (sometimes even teams from other schools) to figure out a design that helps them win. Their design changes also involve a lot of testing, tuning, and practice.
During tournaments teams will compete in qualifying matches and elimination rounds. They will also compete in a solo timed skills events where a student drives the robot and where the robot drives itself (autonomously). Finally, teams will meet with a panel of judges where they defend the design of their robot.
How does this program benefit students?
Statistically more students in robotics programs are college bound, receive grants and scholarships, or are given internship opportunities from area companies than any other school competition model. This program promotes the use of S.T.E.M (or S.T.E.A.M) principles with a strong emphasis in technology, engineering, design, and project management.
How can I help?
Hudsonville Robotics, under Hudsonville Public Schools, is a 501(c)(3) charity and all contributions are tax deductible. Those interested in making a financial donation to Hudsonville Robotics can send checks to the following address:
3886 Van Buren St.
Hudsonville, MI 49426