DCSD students win Gold, Silver & Bronze at International Robot Olympiad
The students representing several DCSD schools won 4 gold medals, 2 silver medals, 10 bronze medals and 5 technical awards.
“It’s what we had hoped for,” commented Ameribotics Executive Director Randy Menzer.
The United States had its largest team ever, with 31 competitors, the majority of whom were from Douglas County School District. Only three years ago it was a small group of DCSD students that first represented the U.S. in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Menzer not only founded the Douglas County non-profit that was behind the U.S. team's success, but he also led the organizing committee that coordinated the IRO, which was held at the Colorado Convention Center.
“It’s been very difficult with all the logistics,” Menzer commented, just hours before the closing ceremony. “The building, the rent, the entire thing, putting it together, the electrical drops in the floor. Even the logistics of printing 2,000 Certificates of Participation.”
Still, he says it was all worth it.
“Seeing the vibrancy in here and the energy of our kids from the USA, largely from the Douglas County School District, there is no question, I would do it again,” Menzer said.
“It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” said Castle Rock Middle School seventh-grader Haley Steinke. “There are all these different people here. You’re competing to get gold. It’s really exciting.”
“It is an experience that I have tried to explain over and over to many people,” added Menzer. “To actually experience it, and for the kids to really be with their peers from all around the world, there is nothing like it.”
In one of the competitions the kids took part in the type of authentic learning experience that you might see in a DCSD classroom. Their challenge was to use robotics in a solution to an agricultural problem.
“I like this competition, because it’s dealing with real world problems,” said Douglas County High School sophomore Sam Zimmer.
The team consisting of members from Castle Rock Middle School, Legend and Douglas County High Schools developed a gold medal winning aquaponics unit.
“[The judges] liked the innovation of the project. Hayley [Steinke], our other team member, actually used it on her farm, she was able to relate to the project, because she had developed it and it was feeding her cows,” Zimmer said.
About 400 kids from around the world took part in the 15th annual event, which usually is held in Asian Pacific countries.
“It’s lucky for it to be here in Colorado” Stone Mountain Elementary sixth-grader Symon Brown said.
Menzer says the event is an amazing place for DCSD students to showcase their skills, especially their creativity.
“This is a world stage. This is a premiere world stage for any event, not just robotics… but in science, technology, engineering and math,” Menzer said. “I hope this is a launching point for this type of robotics in the U.S.”
The team is already planning to send a delegation to the 16th International Robot Olympiad in Beijing, China in October 2014.
The all-volunteer organization will be hosting comprehensive robotics instruction over the coming months. Parents and students interested in participating or community members that wish to support the effort can get more information at www.ameribotics.org.