Getting creative: GO TEC team forms at HCMS

Six Halifax County Middle School students won two awards in the GO TEC VEX IQ Robotics Competition held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville April 19.

In their first year participating in the GO TEC program, things are looking bright for the HCMS team’s future.

Rather than having students compete against other schools, the competition format involved each of the 12 teams from different schools working together to score points.

William Griffith, the middle school’s GO TEC instructor, said there were benefits for the students to work together during the competition. “They were able to collaborate and get ideas from one another and plan strategies for matches. They learned more about collaboration and teamwork with individuals they were less familiar with.

“While they did keep score officially, each match was different,” Griffith said. “The primary point of our participation in this event was to allow the students to have the experience, exposure and to have fun.”

GO TEC stands for Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers. The GO TEC program is rapidly growing throughout the state. Currently, there are 28 GO TEC programs in counties and cities across Virginia.Capture

GO TEC covers 17 types of career clusters and fosters partnerships with local area businesses to offer students potential employment opportunities.

“This program exposes students to careers in technology and engineering that are much needed in the trade community. This class allows the students the ability to explore careers in these fields that feed into programs that are offered at the high school,” Griffith saide.

Some 58 students from across Virginia participated in the event last month at IALR in Danville. For their collaborative efforts, the HCMS team earned the Most Creative Driving award and the Most Creative Robot Build award.

The students who won the Robot Build award designed their robot in homage to WALL-E, of Pixar movie fame. The HCMS students named their robot WALL-E 2.0. The group of students who won the Creative Driving award relied on their collaborative skills to score points, despite having some issues with functionality of their robot, Griffith saide.

Of team’s success, “We were excited for our students,” said Griffith. “They worked hard to come up with a creative design and [build] driving skills.”

To prepare for the event, the team met once a week after school for the last two months. “We enjoy seeing the students get excited about the competition and being creative in their designs. It’s nice to see the students use problem-solving skills to resolve issues and work together as a team,” said Griffith.

Originally, the GO TEC program was set to move forward at HCMS before the pandemic. Due to Covid, it was put on hold until this school year.

Griffith said the IALR competition was an unsanctioned VEX IQ event, but plans are in the works to set up formal competitions for the next school year.

“We hope that our future groups of students will share interests in such competitions,” he said.

From SoVANow