As if the 'Ringmaster' and 'In the Zone' competition games were not challenging enough, teams due to take part in the VEX IQ Challenge and VEX Robotics Competition UK National Championships were handed another obstacle last week.
Snow. Lots of it. In some parts of the country, ridiculous amounts of the stuff.
Consequently many teams were unable to travel to Telford for the event. It was such a shame, particularly because this was the first time the Finals had been held as a standalone event, rather than as part of the Big Bang Fair. Those that were able to take part showed once again why VEX IQ and VRC has such a vital role to play in educational robotics, with some incredible building, programming and controlling skills in evidence. In total, twelve teams from four schools and one independent team have won the right to represent the UK at next month's VEX World Championships, to be held in Kentucky, USA.
Despite the absent teams both competitions were hotly contested. For the second year in succession the Henrietta Barnett School from Hampstead dominated the VEX IQ Challenge Finals, with seven of its eight teams ranked in the top 13. Teams from Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet also did well, winning four awards including the Teamwork Champion award. Its partner in the winning alliance was Fortismere School. Three Henrietta Barnett teams - Vexecutioners, Incredibots and Infinity, and two from Queen Elizabeth's - Technogear and Gear Squad - earnt World Final places for awards including Design, Excellence, Robot Skills and STEM Research Project. The other place went to Robot IQ, an independent team from North London.
Among the judges of the VEX Robotics Competition were Team Apollo, former BBC Robot Wars
champions. They witnessed another immense performance from a school that has become a VEX UK legend. The winning VRC alliance was composed of three teams from the prodigiously successful John Warner School, Hoddesdon. Their opposition in the final were two further teams from the Hertfordshire school and TBC Robotics from Solihull. It was a tight affair, with the final score 158-142 over the two matches. One team in the winning alliance, 3116C, performed great feats through the VRC season, winning a multitude of awards and setting the UK's record high score four times.
Click here for the full list of VEX IQ award winners
Click here for the full list of VRC award winners
"The finals of this year's VEX Robotics Competition and VEX IQ Challenge could not have been anymore, well ... challenging," said Chris Calver, Rapid's Education Manager and VEX co-ordinator. "2018 was our first year running UK Nationals as a standalone event and so there were a whole host of added complexities with running such a big competition, without the weather making it even harder. I was absolutely blown away by the efforts the teams and their teachers made to get to the event and even more amazed that the majority of teams made it."
"This season saw more teams, more volunteers, more fields, more matches and more commitment from everybody involved than ever before. The robots were incredible, the standard of competition and sportsmanship mind-blowing and the effort from all our volunteers was quite humbling so thank you to everybody that made it possible."
"For those that are heading off to Worlds, good luck and safe journey. I expect your travels to Kentucky will be somewhat easier than getting to Telford. Let's bring back some more silverware!"
"This season is still not over yet, but I am already hyped for what next year will bring. New games always bring a lot of excitement, but I'm also certain that the VRC teams will be extra eager to get their hands on the V5 hardware and take the competition to a whole new level. Watch this space for pre-ordering news over the coming months."