Congratulations and good luck to the Texas City public school students competing in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
The high school’s robotics program is fielding 15 students for the competition, which is underway now. The team has qualified four out of a total 584 robots in the competition, making it the sixth largest competitor among schools from around the world and a reflection of the growth and success of robotics in the district, officials said.
Also this year for the first time, Roosevelt-Wilson Elementary School has competed in a number of robotics competitions and has qualified for the competition in Louisville. Five Roosevelt-Wilson students were expected to attend the championships along with the older students, including two who have served this year as mentors for the younger students, Texas City Independent School District said.
A gift of $25,000 from Marathon Oil Corp. helped jump-start the competition program, providing the required game field to practice for competitions like VEX.
The public interest, community and industry support for such teams has helped Galveston County become one of the more highly ranked parts of the nation when it comes to competitions like VEX.
While there’s a lot of innovation going on in education in general, and especially in science, technology, engineering and math programs, robotics might best exemplify what public schools will more and more look like in the future.
The fast-moving area of study, in which technological changes affect the curriculum constantly, is a natural for collaboration across grades and ages, often putting students in the position of teaching their teachers.
It also seems to inspiring more girls to pursue study in the hard sciences, officials said.
Of the five students from Roosevelt-Wilson competing in the VEX world championships, three are girls, and an all-girl team from Blocker Middle School last year won a Skills USA national competition in robotics, and the district has actively pursued grants from organizations supporting women in science and engineering.
Building the robots teaches collaboration, builds problem-solving skills and supports students’ interests in engineering, computer programming, mechanics, electronics, design and even physics.
Taking part in this national competition, which runs through Saturday, probably also will teach the students a few things about working under pressure.
All of which are skills students will need to compete in an increasingly competitive labor market serving an economy increasingly based in high technology.
Also important, it looks like a lot of fun.
• Michael A. Smith