Home Robotics Giving Robotics a Whirl with the 2020-21 TCEA Robotics Contest

Giving Robotics a Whirl with the 2020-21 TCEA Robotics Contest

by Peggy Reimers
robotics contest

2020 has been quite a year. Everything has been turned topsy-turvy,  flip-flopped, and upended. So just to keep things going, let’s add the TCEA robotics contest to this list. The way things have been shaping up there is no way TCEA could guarantee our inventions and arena contests could take place in a face-to-face situation. So what do we do in this case?

When life gives your robots lemons, you use them to make lemonade!

We have opened up the boundaries when it comes to the TCEA Robotics Contest. The contest is going virtual, awards have been shaken up, and students are going to become innovative engineers— with a side of videography thrown into the mix. No rubrics or a ton of rules will be laid out,  so we are excited to see what the student teams will come up with. The sky is the limit!

I am pleased to announce the 2020-21 TCEA Virtual Robotics Contest.

The Go-To Information

Why change the contest?

Since we don’t know what the coming months will bring, we wanted to have a very open-ended contest where imagination and creativity could take flight. We set a few rules and parameters, but did not want to box teams into a corner where a set of rules governs the outcome. 

What is the contest prompt?

A whirligig is an object that spins or whirls. Students will design and build a structure that twists and turns somehow like a whirligig. The motion will be programmed and powered by some type of robotics system. If you can code the robot, you can enter the contest.

Where do I find all the contest information?

The website includes:

  • The contest prompt
  • Contest dates (registration, video entry, and voting)
  • The Engineering Design Process
  • Highlights
  • Parameters and rules
  • Awards
  • More information
  • Policy for changes and cancellations

What are the contest and registration dates?

Contest Registration: January 25 – February 19, 2021
Contest Video Entry: February 15 – February 26, 2021
Public Voting: March 1 – March 5, 2021
Registration Fee: $20 per team

What do the students need to accomplish the challenge?

The two main components of the contest : 

  1. Design and build a whirli-bot
  2. Video your whirli-bot. Every team has a maximum of 90 seconds to show off their creation. Of course, it might not take 90 seconds to film the whirli-bot, so what else could a team include in their video?

What kind of robot can my student use?

Teams can use any brand of robotics kit or even a combination of two or more systems. LEGO, VEX, Dot and Dash, Cubelets, Ozobots, and other systems out in the world can be used in the contest.

Can other materials be incorporated into the whirli-bot?

Teams are not limited to the items in their robotics kits. They can use everyday items as well as student-made items.  Students can reuse, repurpose, and remix a variety of materials to include with their whirli-bot. 

What exactly does this look like?

This means dig into those classroom closets, go through your home craft drawers, or raid your garage or shed. 

  • Reuse – cardboard, packing material, plastic containers, etc
  • Repurpose – dominos, drinking straws, Keurig pods, pool noodles, etc.
  • Remix –  K’NEX building system, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Zoobs, Makey-Makey, etc. 

Students can also make parts and pieces for their whirli-bot, but please remember that these must be student-made items. Items should not be incorporated into the design that have been made by an adult. If you are lucky to have a fabulous relative painting a backdrop or a parent whipping out their jigsaw to cut custom-made blades, the backdrop or jigsawed items will be unacceptable.  

Go, Bot, Go!

What about 3D printed pieces?

3D printed pieces are welcome as long as the student has created the digital design. 

Where can I get more information?

Check out this episode of TCEA Ed Tech Club podcast all about Whirli-bots Motion Commotion!

Image by shotbyhens from Pixabay

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