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Delta Charter School Robotics team wins state
from The Concordia Sentinel
March 9, 2017 -

(Concordia Sentinel) — Delta Charter School teacher Tara Dale just wanted her 5th-and-6th grade robotics team (DCS Storminators) to enjoy the moment at the state Vex Robotics competition Saturday at Holy Cross High in New Orleans on Saturday.

But when her team won first place in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Research, Teamwork Champions and Overall Excellence, the DCS team came back with more than a learning experience — they came back as state champions.

The Excellence Award goes to the top all-around team on both robot performance and judged categories.

While each competition robot must be made with VEX-manufactured parts, it is up to each team to design its own robot by integrating various accessories and materials.

“I just wanted the kids to enjoy the experience and compete,” Dale said. “Winning State was a real nice bonus.”

In the Teamwork Challenge, each school teams up with another school and they share the points. The competition involves having their clawbot, which the students build, pick up hex balls and move them to certain areas worth a certain amount of points. They get extra points if they finish the round by balancing on the competition field bridge along with the other team.

Delta Charter named its robot MJ.

Dale, who teaches kindergarten through sixth grade at Delta Charter, will now take her DCS Elementary Team to compete in the World Vex Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Ky., April 23-25.

The team is comprised of 11 students.

The students were split into two teams, and their points are combined at the end of the competition.

Delta Charter's elementary team won the programming skills competition at Delhi Charter to earn the invitation to state.

There is also a Vex and Vex IQ challenge.

“That changes every year so each year presents a new challenge,” Dale said.

The students used a large poster display of “Robots Help Autism” to earn their first place in Stem Research Project.

Emily Dawkins teaches robotics to middle school and high school students at Delta Charter and asked Dale to begin a class for elementary students.

“I have just always been interested in hands-on learning and project-based learning,” Dale said.

Dale worked with DCS elementary students last year on Project Lead the Way Launch, which helped introduce them to robotics.

Project Lead the Way Launch is designed for elementary students to become problem solvers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process. They apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, and discover that trying different approaches and solutions is an essential part of the learning process.

Dale said her team used some of the same concepts as she taught last year.

“You are judged on your Engineering Design Process notebook and each student is interviewed,” Dale said. “The notebook is similar to what engineers use.”

Dale graduated from Monterey High.

But she was not part of the school's award winning moon buggy team of the past under then Monterey teacher Paul Glynn.

“I wanted to, but I was not fast enough to push the buggy,” Dale said with a laugh.

Delta Charter School is also seeking sponsors and donations to help the elementary team make the trip to Louisville.

Anyone wanting to sponsor or contribute can call Delta Charter School at 318-757-3202.

The competition will air on ESPN2.

“We are excited to go to the World competition this year and excited to see what the future holds for these young engineers and the DCS Robotics program,” Dale said.

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