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District Communications - News Room


Two OPS High Schools Travel to China to Compete in Robotics Competition


Robotics teams from Benson High Magnet (Isaac Beacom, Ty Foster, Sher Lah and coach Ryan Troxel) and North High Magnet (Noah Landis, Matthew Nevarez, Trey Smith and coach Jeremy Weimer) traveled 6,480 miles to Beijing, China, this summer to compete in the High School VEX Robotics Competition as part of China’s World Robotics Conference. The event was hosted by the Beijing municipal government, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the China Association for Science and Technology. The trips were funded by BESTIC, a grant from the Sherwood Foundation and host companies in China that provided lodging and food.

It was a trip of a lifetime and a cultural awakening for these six young techies who’d never traveled outside the United States.  Both teams noted two stark differences between Chinese and American competitions: 1) the robot inspections are more relaxed in China and 2) the matches were more intense because referees played a more proactive role towards disqualifications and interaction with other robots.  “Referees would actually physically remove robots from the match,” said Nevarez. “It was startling to see at first because that would never happen in America, but we got used to it and adjusted.”

While competitions in America provide students with real-world engineering experience, help them develop technology skills and learn to work as a team; competing abroad offers students something more: a broader look at how technology is taught, executed and developed abroad.

“The designs we saw in the competition challenged us to be more innovative and the communications channels that opened up to us will help us moving forward,” said Smith. “We’re now communicating with teams from around the world and will continue to as this year’s season progresses. It’s great to be able to bounce ideas around.”

In their downtime, students explored local sites and enjoyed genuine Chinese cuisine.  The trip included excursions to see the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, an Olympic venue, a traditional tea house, a jade factory, silk factory and Old Town; a ride in a rickshaw and enjoying Peking Duck and other local food. The trips also gave them opportunities to see firsthand how the country’s citizens are governed.

“I think team members have a greater appreciation that they are Americans,” said Ryan Troxel, Benson’s robotics coach. “There are some pretty strict laws in China.”  As for how they fared in the competition – North won the Innovate Award for best robotics design and Benson won the Excellence Award for best robot. Fairly impressive for their first time abroad.



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