All About Robotics
We offer students at each grade level various opportunities to interact with robots. Robotics lessons and teams are a part of our focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Learn more about our robotics programs and teams.
In April, our FIRST Robotics Team will travel to Richmond and Missouri to compete! FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” FIRST is an international organization that operates the FIRST Robotics Competition. Teams design, build, and program a competition robot in 6 weeks to meet an annual challenge. This year’s challenge is called FIRST STEAMWORKS. The PPS team is named Royal Robotics. The team’s motto is “Where Imagination, Innovation, and Integrity are king.” The team is supported by community partners, including Newport News Shipbuilding and Portsmouth-based SimIS Inc. The Churchland High team is coached by Crystal Whitfield-Newton and Isaiah Marriner.
Our school division hosts the annual Hampton Roads District competition that attracts more than 30 teams from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The Royal Robotics team will compete at the District Championship on April 5-8, 2017 at the Siegel Center in Richmond. They are the defending 2016 champions. They will then travel to St. Louis from April 25-30, 2017 to compete in the FIRST Championship alongside U.S. teams and teams from more than 40 nations.
VEX Robotics groups participate in a series of competitions. Each high school has a coach. Crystal Whitfield-Newton and Isaiah Marriner serve Churchland High. Daron Moore serves I.C. Norcom High. Lawrence Douglas serves Wilson High. Each high school contributes students to a Portsmouth competition Team.
Mr. Douglas and Mr. Moore are the founders of this robotics platform for PPS students. Mr. Douglas recently accompanied students to the State Championship, narrowly missing the qualification for the World Championship. These robots as well as the students who design, build, and run them recently appeared at our STEM Expo.
PPS also hosts two regional competitions during the year. One is held at I.C. Norcom High in December, and the other at Wilson High in February. We have hosted between 30-55 teams from all over the East Coast and Virginia during those competitions.
Our PPS competition team often competes at state level as well as in the World Championships. The team has traveled to competitions in Texas, California and Florida.
The game field and challenge changes annually, too. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) are our external partners.
LEGO NXT robots are used in the middle school STEM programs known as BIOBASE and ROBOBASE. Dara Brinkman is the STEM teacher based at Cradock Middle School. PPS serves approximately 800 middle school students who apply to these programs.
VEX IQ robots are new to the middle school CHROME clubs. CHROME stands for Cooperating Hampton Roads Organizations for Minorities in Engineering. VEX IQ robots will be ready to compete next year.
LEGO WEDO robots are built and operated in afterschool CHROME Clubs at each elementary school. These are simple robots built with LEGO bricks, motors and sensors.
Elementary students will compete with these robots at STARBASE Victory on May 5, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. – noon.
More STEM and Future plans
Along with these programs, we include drones in our students’ science instruction. We also offer various STEM summer camps such as advanced coding. Soon, these opportunities will become part of the yearly AEROBASE program at STARBASE. Additionally, teachers will receive training in virtual reality/augmented reality this summer. In the fall, we plan to open our first Augmented Reality Lab at I.C. Norcom High.