Sea Girt Elementary students bring robots to competition

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Sea Girt Elementary students Brady Walker [left] and Patrick MacCullough-Pelly inspect their VEX IQ robot in preparation for the upcoming Ranney School VEX IQ competition on Jan. 25. PHOTO BY SARAH BLOOM

SEA GIRT — For the first time since its inception as an extracurricular group at Sea Girt Elementary School, the robotics club will represent the school in a regional event – the VEX IQ competition.

Eighth-grader Brady Walker and sixth grader Patrick MacCullough-Pelly will work as a team during the Jan. 25 event at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, in competition with middle school grade teams from 31 other schools.

The tandem duo works together, balancing out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. 

“Brady’s strength is the building and design [of the robots] and Patrick’s strength is the programming and coding,” Laura Dunbar, Sea Girt Elementary science teacher, said. 

The VEX IQ competition, presented by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, which provides students with robotics and research projects to stimulate core skills in their science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] studies. 

The competition is set up in a tournament style and includes a challenge, which changes every year. This year’s challenge is called “Squared Away.” The foundation said it is played on a 4×8’ rectangular field where competitors control two robots in a teamwork challenge, played in minute-long sessions to score points. There are also skills challenges where teams test their driving and programming skills for points.

Specific coding software powers the robots, which is what gets Patrick’s gears going, he said. Brady rounds out the team with his crafty handwork and I-can-fix-it attitude.

“We’ve always messed around with VEX Robotics, but we never get into anything serious,” Brady said about the school’s robotics club, which he has been a member of the last two years.  “I saw what other people were doing online and what they’ve done from the years before, and it just clicked. I’m very interested in engineering and things like this.”

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