Education Foundation Announces Results of Local Robotics Competition

Alameda Education Foundation    Members of the Ruby Bridges Elementary School’s robotics team work on their spacecraft during the 2018 Robotics competition for students in grades 4 to 8 at Wood Middle School on May 12.

More 80 students representing 12 teams from Alameda’s public schools participated in this year’s Alameda Education Foundation’s (AEF) robotics competition. First place went to Wood Middle School’s “Well Done Pepes.” The Franklin Elementary Vaccines and Bay Farm Dophins tied for second-place honors. Wood’s fourth- and fifth-grade team, the Space Bots, captured third place. Other teams included the Kitten Bots and Thunder Bots from Ruby Bridges Elementary, Bilsijacthe from Wood Middle School, Fred and Poseidon from Haight Elementary School, Terminators from Bay Farm Elementary School and two teams from the Academy of Alameda.

The robotics program is a collaboration that involves AEF, Island City Robotics, Alameda Robotics Center and Wood Middle School. The 2017-2018 program paralleled the challenges of the first Lego League, but the teams competed locally against Alameda teams rather than regionally. 

Through participation in robotics, students learn critical thinking skills, problem solving, teamwork, time management. These activities can provide a gateway into growing technological fields. 
“Through the robots, each student on each team learns the life skills of collaboration and flexibility,” said Nga Nguyen, a teacher at Wood School who also manages the Alameda Robotics Center program. 

Academy of Alameda teacher and robotics mentor Shannon Donahue said that through robotics, students often become excited about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, in a way that is not always possible in the classroom. Donahue said one of the highlights was “engaging students who are low-performing in science and watching them get excited and debate (argue) about scientific concepts like measurement, speed, modelling and other physical ideas that they did not like during science.”

AEF Executive Director Vicki Sedlack likens the program to a sports league. “The excitement during the competition was as thrilling as I have seen at any sporting competition,” she said. “Yet at the same time students are learning valuable skills that will help prepare them for further education and future careers.”

AEF and its partners plan to expand the program to include more schools in the 2018-2019 school year and, over the long-term, develop a year-round program. The 2017-2018 robotics program was sponsored by Power Up For Learning, an AEF and Alameda Municipal Power fundraising program; the Greater Alameda Business Association; and the Graber family.