Four students from White Sands School have been selected to compete at the World Championships Vex Robotics competition in Louisville, Kentucky April 15-18.
The team qualified for the world championship after taking an Excellent Award, the highest honor a team can get, at the state championships held at New Mexico State University in February.
Brian Claar, the science and Project Lead teacher at White Sands School and Jim Maes, Physical Education teacher at the school, both coaches for the team, will accompany the students.
Claar said he has been meeting with the students almost every day after school since October to work on their robot.
“It has been a successful year,” he said.
The White Sands School team is the only middle school team from the state of New Mexico going to the world championships, where they will compete with over 800 teams from around the world.
In the VEX Robotics Competition, presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams from around the world in a game-based engineering challenge, according to the website. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test on the playing field as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communications, and more. Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state, and national levels; local champions go on to compete against the best in the world at the VEX Robotics World Championship each April.
Claar said the team always places at the state championships, but this is the first year they will go to world championships.
“We are very excited,” Claar said. Claar has been teaching at the school for the past three years.
The VRC team members are: Lead driver: Bryce Richards, 8th grade, Andrew Esquivel, 8th grade, Kayla Hersman, 8th grade, and Molly Fowkes, 5th grade.
“I think it is important to get kids involved in the STEM field,” Claar said. “I love what I do and I enjoy teaching students in the field.” “It is just an honor to go and to get accepted to compete with over 800 teams.”
“I wanted to be able to do things that no other middle schooler had done and I was able to do that through the BEST Robotics competition (advancement)and VEX Robotics going to the world competition,” said Bryce Richards, 13.
As part of his work with students in science over the past 12 years, Claar is one of a hand full of individuals selected to receive a NMSU Legacy award April 9 at the Aggie Cornerstone Awards Banquet at Las Cruces Convention Center.
Claar works with several programs on STEM outreach to include teaching summer classes.
This summer he is scheduled to teach a class called hummingbird robotics. He has also been selected to participate in the GEMS program out of WSMR, and will teach a robotics camp with the Middle School and Teen program at Youth Services. He has been involved with professional development and teaching summer camps for the last 12 years.
“It’s awesome to be recognized,” he said. Claar, who is humbled by the award, said it is great to be recognized for his work. “It is an honor to receive this award,” he said. “There are so many teachers who do good things and it is great to be part of that group.”