Robots square off at Stonybrook Middle School

'VEX Toss Up' tournament hosted by Warren Central

INDIANAPOLIS - Busloads of high school students piled into Stonybrook Middle School Saturday to compete against one another's robots.

The school was host to the "Warren VEX Toss Up" robotics tournament, organized by Warren Central High School's robotics team, the "Digital Goats."

VEX is a robotics design system geared toward students to encourage learning about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The objective of the "toss up" tournament type is to use a robot – designed, built and programmed by students – to move colored balls into designated areas and tubes.

"It's a great way for kids to get into an engineering-type program and design and build robots," said Randall Decker, the Digital Goats' sponsor. "This is definitely applied STEM."

Warren's team, started in 2001, boasts 25 members, and was the winner of the 2013 Indianapolis VEX Robotics City Championship Excellence Award.

Representatives from the U.S. Army's unmanned ground vehicles research and development division were on-hand at the event too. They showed off some of the Army's advanced robots, and talked about career opportunities in robotics.

"It's very important that we have a generation of Americans come up who know how robots operate, how to use them, what are their capabilities," said Major Todd Willert, who is assigned to the unmanned vehicles R&D division. "There is a future for robotics in the military."

Aside from the career opportunities, the students say it's just plain fun.

"It's really one of the greatest things I've ever been a part of," said Warren Central senior Ellie Honious, who's been with the Digital Goats since her freshman year. "You learn so much, and it really opens a lot of doors." 

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