photo by: Joselyn King
WHEELING – Ohio County Schools robotics teams beat nearly all of them in West Virginia this month at the robotics state championships, and now they’re looking to take on the world.
There are 40 Ohio County students heading to the April 25-27 Vex Robotics World Championship at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Arena in Dallas.
One of the students is Wheeling Park High School senior Azariah Bayes, the “driver” for the Iron Patriots MK 4 robot that won the overall state championship in West Virginia.
West Virginia was allocated spots for 14 teams in the world championship, and Ohio County Schools took nine — three from WPHS, four from Bridge Street Middle School, and two from Triadelphia Middle School.
photo by: Joselyn King
Bayes said having the best and most efficient robot in the league doesn’t always win his team. The robots are built and coded to do things like shoot as many discs into a net in a 45 second period.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the robot that’s better — I practice a lot,” Bayes said. “I can outsmart all our opponents, and I can outsmart all our opponents.
“Our robot is above average, but again, I wouldn’t say it’s the robot. It’s about drive practice with my drive team and time management on the field.”
After the start of the season, he took over as the robot’s driver, but including lesson time, he estimates he practices driving the robot for about three hours a day.
He said that some changes will be made to the robot before the world championships, and that instead of shooting four discs at once, it will be able to shoot six, giving the team a chance to score more points during the allotted time period.
Bayes hopes to pursue a career in engineering while in college and is exploring the possibility of attending Purdue University or online Southern New Hampshire University.
WPHS senior Ethan Matz and his team, Iron Patriots MK 1, also qualified for the world championships while winning the skills championship for West Virginia.
He knows what sets his team’s robot apart from the others.
“It’s fast — faster than the others,” he said. “It’s probably the fastest in the state, and it probably shoots the fastest.”
Matz said he made some changes to the robot’s motors during the season to increase speed.
Bridge Street Middle School eighth graders Mya White and Emma McNickle are excited to go to Dallas. Their Steels Devil III team was the state tournament champion among high school participants.
They added that they were looking forward to meeting new people from around the world and improving their coding skills.
JoJo Shay, innovation coordinator for Ohio County Schools, has about a month to coordinate the logistics of getting the 40 students and nine teams to Dallas with their coaches and chaperones.
That’s double the number of robotics students who traveled to Dallas for the world championships last year, she said. It was their first year participating and Ohio County Schools sent four teams.
“This year we qualified nine teams, which shows their passion for robotics, their level of competition and their desire to move to the next level,” she said. “This year we have a lot more kids.”