What began as a side interest in computer programming for a few Mount Carmel students turned into two championship trophies for Mount Carmel’s VEX Robotics team, Caravan Robotics.
“In January, we purchased some VEX Robotics equipment for our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Lab, and the students decided to form a robotics team,” said Dr. Michael Rodgers, Mount Carmel technology teacher and mentor for the Caravan Robotics team.
“Originally, we joined the organization as the computer club and it turned into robotics,” said freshman Robert Sanchez-Szewczyk of East Side, Chicago.
This year’s VEX competition, In the Zone, was to design, build, program, and drive a robot to stack cones on mobile goals and to deliver the mobile goals to the scoring zones. To meet this challenge, the students learned about engineering, coding, and teamwork and had a lot of fun in the process.
Following the creation of the team, the students wasted no time entering competitions, hitting the road to Carbondale, Illinois for their first tournament, Southern Illinois VEX In the Zone. In an alliance with students from Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Mount Vernon, Illinois, the Caravan Robotics team won the tournament!
From there, the Caravan Robotics team competed in two skills challenge competitions, the state championship tournament, the CREATE U.S. Open, and, finally, the Southworks Engineering and Robotics Olympics. At the Southworks competition, Mount Carmel won our second championship trophy of the season with a first place finish in the VEX In the Zone event.
It has been a fantastic first year for the team. Aside from learning technical skills, the students formed bonds during their multiple trips and shared stories about the camaraderie amongst the team.
“I’ve really taken away a lot from this experience,” said freshman Josiah Shelton of Kenwood, Chicago. “I enjoyed all of the trips we’ve taken to compete and seeing how our robot matched up against other schools.”
As the school year swiftly wraps up, the Caravan Robotics team will keep the momentum going by hosting a summer camp from July 23-26 at Mount Carmel High School.
“Students will have a lot of fun working in teams on a variety of projects as they learn about basic concepts in computer programming and robotics,” said Dr. Michael Rodgers, who will run the summer camp. He continued, “Students will design and build VEX Robotics race cars to compete in speed or strength, investigate using sensors to control robot behavior, and develop simple computer programs from programming blocks.”
To learn more about the computer programming and robotics summer camp and others, please visit us at MCHS.org/SummerCamp.