In November 2011, Joe Walker Middle School became home to the first Vex Robotics team in the Antelope Valley.
In less than six months, the program has gone from upstart rookie to nationally ranked challenger.
The team will next test their mettle at the Vex Robotics Middle School World Championship competition running April 18-21 in Anaheim, Calif. This competition brings 151 teams together from all over the United States and eight other countries including Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
In February, the 10-member team placed 15th in their division at the middle/senior high school competition. The Joe Walker team also received the Energy Award for effective teamwork and spirit at the competition. After this event, the team was put on a waitlist for the World Championship and eventually received a personal invitation from Jason Morrella, president of The Robotics Education and Competition Foundation based on their impressive showing.
“I absolutely love this program,” says Justin Sowa, an 8th grade student and captain of the Vex Robotics team at Joe Walker. “It’s a lot of hands-on experience. I want to be an engineer when I grow up and this program is helping me get there.”
Vex Robotics is currently an extra-curricular program that students attend after school or during lunch hours. The team is working to raise money for more robot-building kits and hopes to have Vex Robotics offered as an actual elective class next year.
Emphasis on math, science and engineering are core components of the curriculum at Joe Walker Middle School, which now features what it refers to as a STEALTH education (Science, Engineering, Technology and Learning Through Humanities. All students that attend Joe Walker are given opportunities to participate in diverse programs like VEX Robotics.
“The Vex Robotics team is the first of its kind in the Antelope Valley,” says Westside Union School District Superintendent Regina Rossall. “The program demonstrates our commitment to providing excellence in everything we do and our resolve to meeting the unique needs of our regional economy in the future.”
For more information about Joe Walker’s Vex Robotics program and for application information, visit the District Website, http://www.westside.k12.ca.us/jw/ or call the school at (661) 943-3258.
To make a donation to the team’s endeavor to buy more robot kits, make check payable to Joe Walker ASB with “Vex Robotics” in the memo line and mail to 5632 West Avenue L-8, Lancaster, CA 93536.