900 Students Blend Robotics with Agriculture at Ecobot Challenge

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April 19, 2018 by HCDE-Texas

View photos from the event: http://bit.ly/2HITITi (download password is hcde1889)

Ninety-six teams gathered for the 10th annual Ecobot Challenge April 21 and commandeered their Mindstorm robots through a maze of agricultural challenges. This year the challenge included agriculture history questions in a game called “bingerdy.” Trends in agriculture-based technology provided opportunity for teams to test their knowledge from agriculture eras in the mid-1970s to 2018.

The event for 900-plus students in grades 4-8 was hosted by the Education Foundation of Harris County and Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids, or CASE for Kids. With a tradition of supporting science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM studies, the event was supported by CenterPoint Energy, Best Buy Foundation, Quality Feed & Garden Company, Consumer Energy Education Foundation, Houston Independent School District and Women’s Energy Network (WEN) Houston.

Morning session grades 4-5 overall robotics winners include the following:

• 1st place robotics and overall: Park Place Elementary, Houston ISD, team: Geek Famers
• 2nd place robotics and overall: Brick Bots, nonprofit
• 3rd place robotics and overall: Williamson Elementary, Galena Park ISD, team: Williamson Squad 1

Morning session grades 6-8 robotics winners include the following:

• 1st place robotics and overall: Mindstormer Robotics, nonprofit
• 2nd place robotics and overall: Cleveland ISD, Illumiverse 2.0
• 3rd place robotics and overall: Landrum Middle School/KIPP Courage, charter school, team: The Rubik’s Cubes

Afternoon session grades 4-5 overall robotics winners include the following:

• 1st place robotics and overall: Mindstormer Robotics, nonprofit
• 2nd place robotics and overall: DeAnda Elementary, Houston ISD, Tigerbots 3
• 3rd place robotics and overall: DeAnda Elementary, Houston ISD, Tigerbots 2

The first-place morning team from Park Place Elementary and led by bilingual teacher Yasin Puertas Aguilera, a first-year teacher who led his team based on his interest in technology. His bilingual class had the additional challenge of language differences as the robotics programmers who are Vietnamese joined with the engineers who are Spanish speakers.

“When they put everyting together, they had to use English as the common language,” Aguilera said.

Trends in agriculture-based technology provided opportunity for teams to test their knowledge from agriculture eras in the mid-1970s to 2018. Points were wagered based on questions and answers in a game called “bingerdy.”

Volunteers from area industries provided demonstrations in the Eco-Genius Lab which supplies real-world examples of STEM labs and career opportunities. Some organizations sponsoring demonstrations include WEN Houston (robot coding) and Quality Feed & Garden Co. (gardening).

“Robotics has fast become a popular hobby for students, and CASE for Kids hosts and supports this STEM curriculum and event because of the critical thinking skills it promotes along with team-building and problem solving,” said Lisa-Thompson Caruthers, CASE for Kids director.  “Teams are formed from diverse areas of the city and include students from afterschool programs, home school organizations, boys’ and girls’ clubs and more.”

School districts sending teams to the competition included Aldine, Alief, Cleveland, Cy-Fair, Galena Park, Houston, Huffman, Humble, Klein, La Porte, New Caney, Pasadena, Pearland, Spring, Spring Branch and Stafford.

For more information about the event, go www.ecobotchallenge.com .

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