Two Maui teams to compete in 2022 VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas
In May, 32 Hawaiʻi elementary, middle and high school robotics teams – including two middle school teams from Pukalani STEM Imagineers Robotics in Kula – will showcase their game strategy, design and teamwork skills at the 2022 VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas.
VEX Robotics is an educational robotics program that inspires students to excel in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) principles while encouraging creativity, teamwork, leadership and problem solving among groups.
Robotics competitions foster these skills and prepare students to become future innovators as well as increase their interest in pursuing STEM careers. Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state and national levels, and culminate in the VEX Robotics World Championship. There are approximately 20,000 teams from 45 countries participating in VEX tournaments.
The 32 Hawai’i teams qualified for the world championship by advancing from a pool of 77 teams that competed in the Hawai’i VEX Robotics state championship held in February.
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the world championship will be held in-person with a live spectator audience. Portions of the event, which runs May 3-12, will be done digitally and remotely.
Advancing from Oʻahu are Hāleʻiwa Elementary School (2 teams), Highlands Intermediate School (2 teams), Island Robotics from Waipahu (2 teams), Kaʻōhao Public Charter School (2 teams), Kapolei Middle School (2 teams), Mānoa Elementary School (4 teams), Mililani Mauka Elementary School, Mililani Mechs Robotics, Musubi Robotics (Waiʻanae), Nānākuli Intermediate School, Pearl City High School (3 teams), Sacred Hearts Academy, Saint Louis School (3 teams), Waialua High & Intermediate School (3 teams) and Waiʻanae Intermediate School. A team from Waiakea Intermediate School on Hawaiʻi Island also will compete.
Team standings at the Hawaiʻi VEX Robotics State Championship:
At the state championships, Hawaiian Electric, Kamehameha Schools – Kapālama, Saint Louis School, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Gayle Kamei and Jon Kitagawa of Waiakea Intermediate School, Matt Eftink of St. Joseph High School and Master Chief Richard Enright of Nānākuli High & Intermediate School were named “Partners of the Year” for their long-standing support and partnership with Hawaiʻi VEX Robotics.
The Teacher of the Year honor was awarded to Joan Okai of Highlands Intermediate School. Okai, who retired in December 2021, continues to mentor the Highlands robotics team.
Locally, the Hawaiʻi Space Grant Consortium oversees the Hawaiʻi VEX Robotics Competitions with funding through the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation. Expanded opportunities for space education through the efforts of the Hawaiʻi Space Grant Consortium have been focused on the public, particularly teachers and students in grades kindergarten through 12.
In August 2021, the Hawaiʻi Space Grant Consortium hired a full-time robotics engineering education specialist, Adria Fung. She is a product of the K-12 robotics pipeline, having participated for the robotics team at Sacred Hearts Academy for four years.
Fung has conducted various remote and in-person trainings and workshops for coaches, teachers and students; developed a robotics curriculum for STEM/robotics classes; and mentored teachers and students in rookie robotics programs.