V’mpressions: Hopkins Robotics Cup 2020

V’m was so honored to attend the Hopkins Robotics Cup which allowed young people to complete in STEM subjects in fun and tangible ways! V’m was a little nervous because they had a career in underwater jousting (Maryland’s state sport) but never tried their claw at robotics. Coordinator Erin Burk was so accommodating and gave V’m so many options from welcoming people at the registration desk, passing out lunch, to setting up, or keeping score of robotics matches. V’m felt comfortable helping set up and felt like a real part of the team in his matching T-Shirt and seeing familiar Volunteer Maryland Family, Thomas Darnell from VMHQ and VM Alum Becky Palmisano! Thomas, who has returned to volunteer here for the 3rd time gave V’m a rundown of all the events:

VEX robotics involves students in STEM learning, teaching them engineering and programming skills, and also teamwork, cooperation, and problem-solving.  The 8th annual Hopkins Robotics Cup is the Baltimore City Championship event and an all-time high of 90 plus teams were hosted at Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus for the tournament.  For the matches, four robots are brought together per field, in alliances of two.

I was told that there were upwards of 100 volunteers.  For my job during the competition–I also helped with setup Friday, and breakdown and cleanup at the end–I was field manager.  I oversaw the queuing of teams waiting for their next match and communicated with the referees, field resetters, announcers, and scorekeepers about the timing of bringing new competitors to the field.  My team was comprised of queuers and runners. Runners went into the pits and notified teams when their match was coming up soon, and fetched teams that were missing from their spot in line. Queuers help teams line up properly and help direct the runners.

There was a similar system in place for VEX IQ, which is for younger students.  There are also skills fields, where robots and drivers can compete solo without allies or opponents, and scorekeepers and resetters working there. Additionally, there are positions for helping with registration and food. Finally, there are judges who talk to teams about their robots, observe some competitions, and deliberate over assigning awards, including the Hopkins Cup.  Awards are given out at the end of the competition–VEX IQ still uses the trophy I designed and built–and certain awards as well as winning the tournament secure spots in the State tournament, and a chance to qualify for Worlds–and in recent years some have done so.

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