The Davis Youth Robotics League (DYR), an elementary and junior high school program where students build robots, is gearing up for their culminating tournaments of the year, taking place at Davis High School from October to December. The DYR League allows students to participate in the Vex IQ robotics game, an international youth robotics program. The students are given kits of LEGO-like bricks, which they can use with motors to assemble their robots and program them to respond to controllers, allowing the kids to compete in tournaments.
The local tournaments are put on by the Davis Robotics Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to STEM education across the community, which also creates clubs at several local elementary schools. The tournaments will take place on October 14th, November 17th and December 8th. Teams from across Davis will compete for a chance to go to the state competition.
These students work for weeks tuning and adjusting their robots to carefully play the game. They keep careful track of changes they make in a design notebook, allowing them to learn organizational skills and understand when changes were made.
In addition to the robot itself, they can do video research project on how their mathematical skills can relate to problem solving. This is a way of letting the students apply the skills they’ve learned to uses outside of just the competition setting.
Justin Yeung, the DYR Tournament Coordinator, explained that there are several Da Vinci students involved in these programs. Some help mentor the teams or volunteer at the competitions, and some Junior High School students are even members of these teams.
Yeung explained the rewards for certain teams, describing that, “There are several awards that we will be giving out, including the Design Award, Teamwork Championship Award, and STEM Research Project Award. Some of these awards can qualify the teams for the State Championships.” This variety of awards make sure that teams are appreciated for more than just competitive success, but for the important skills they learn and demonstrate.
These programs have affected huge numbers of people in the community. According to Nathan McAllister, DYR School Coordinator, across three years the program has reached almost 300 students. Each of these students learn important skills, like collaboration, teamwork and community participation. These students often go on to participate in the local Citrus Circuits robotics team, where they learn advanced mechanical skills and important experiences.
Ellie Kim, a DYR alumnus, has tremendously benefited from her experience in the program, explaining, “It taught me a lot about mechanics, programming, but most of all how much collaboration matters.” It also helped her learn to interact with the community, saying it, “helped make me and my friends better people and taught us how to get along with other members of the community.”
The first tournament will be on October 14th, starting at 9:30 am at the South Gym. Make sure to show up and support the local kids!