BALLINGER - On Saturday the TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) Area 15 hosted the regional Lego Mindstorm Robotics Competition at Ballinger High School gymnasium. Teams from Ballinger and Winters placed in the competition.

BALLINGER - On Saturday the TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) Area 15 hosted the regional Lego Mindstorm Robotics Competition at Ballinger High School gymnasium.

Angela Gau, TCEA Area 15 Director, organized the event which featured 168 teams from 23 school districts in Area 15. A total of 672 students from grades 4-12 participated in the event.

“It was exciting to see the problem- solving skills these students exhibited and the ingenuity of their robots and inventions,” Gau said.   

Participating students from elementary and secondary schools design, collaborate, plan, redesign, construct, create, assemble, invent, reinvent, write, present, and compete to see who has developed the smartest robot. The contests vary based on strategies that involve speed, accuracy, sensing objects, and light. A programmable robot is limited only by the imagination of its inventor.

Ballinger High School had one team competing while Ballinger Junior High had 10 teams of four competing.

Nancy Minzenmeyer, STEMS teacher at the high school led her students to the competition.

“I have learned a lot,” Minzenmeyer said prior to the event. “These students are really great at programming.”

Shelli Morgan, the STEMS teacher at the junior high, had 10 teams of four from grades 6-8 competing in the event. It is the first year for STEM classes at the junior high and the first year that students have competed. Morgan also served as a judge.

“It gives the kids not only opportunities to work cooperatively together, it helps them develop their problem solving skills,” Morgan explained.

 On Friday, the students practiced for the competition and the competition was fierce.

“If you’re not first you’re last,” said seventh grader Carter Arrott.

Morgan’s BJHS team 4 placed second in the Intermediate Arena and Morgan’s team 6 place third in the competition.

Winters Junior High and High School had 11 teams and 31 students compete in the TCEA Area Robotics competition. A total of 94 Teams competed in the intermediate division and 47 teams competed in the advanced division from all schools in Region 15.

Team M&M'S, which included Megan Tarr, Mara Mostad and Sugar Hunter had a 5th place finish in the intermediate division.  The surprise overall second place winner was Team Denominators in the Advanced division, which included Brandon L’Abbe and Patrick Reyes.

"Mandy Mostad and Robin Smith were chaperones for the group.  We couldn't do this without their help," said Coach Monte Angel.  "Our kids did a great job and represented Winters in a special way."

Gau explained that robotics is an invaluable resource for teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. It also develops critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving, along with other 21st century skills such as creativity, imagination, curiosity, and innovation.

 “A curriculum that includes robotics provides students with the ability to take an active role in their own learning and forms a necessary foundation for their lives in the ever-changing world,” Gau said.

Each year, TCEA provides its members with the opportunity to explore the impact of robotics. Participating students from elementary and secondary schools design, collaborate, plan, redesign, construct, create, assemble, invent, reinvent, write, present, and compete to see who has developed the smartest robot. The contests vary based on strategies that involve speed, accuracy, sensing objects, and light. A programmable robot is limited only by the imagination of its inventor.

Students not only have the opportunity to compete in a prescribed problem contest; there is also an open-ended invention contest. Students use marketing, programming, writing, constructing, and presentation skills to find a solution for a problem of their choice.

TCEA is a member-based organization devoted to the use of technology in education. Our primary focus is on integrating technology into the PreK-12 environment and provides members with state-of-the-art information through conferences, workshops, newsletters, the Internet, and collaborations with higher education and business.

“It was a great success this year and of course it could not have been possible without all the help of the many volunteers! I cannot thank them enough!” Gau said. “I would also like to convey my gratitude to all the teams and their sponsors that came out to Ballinger on Saturday.”

Winners at the regional contests have the chance to compete in the state competition to be held May 20.

Winners at the Lego Mindstorm Robotics Contest in the Intermediate Arena were:

*The Four Amigos, Glenn Middle School, San Angelo, 1st.

*BJHS Team 4, Ballinger Junior High, 2nd.

*BJHS Team 6, Ballinger Junior High, 3rd.

*Early Build & Rescue, Early Middle School, 4th.

*The M&Ms, Winters Junior High, 5th.

*Lit Taco Baller Unicorns, Grape Creek Junior High, 6th.

Advanced Arena winners were:

*Winging it, Wall High School, 1st.

*Denominators, Winters High School, 2nd.

*G Squared, Tom Green County 4-H, 3rd.

*Cookie Bots, May High School, 4th.

*The Last Amanda Bots, May High School, 5th.

*Gingerbot, WTTC/CHS/LVHS, San Angelo, 6th.