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VEX Robotics Competition comes to Lawton

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LAWTON, OK._It was a show of gadgetry and technology as young students showed off their creations  Saturday during a VEX Robotics Competition.

The Worley Center at the Great Plains Technology Center was filled with middle school students and their very own robots.

Each robot was designed, built and programmed by the students themselves.

What might have looked like something out of a science fiction movie, was actually the product of some very intelligent middle school children. 

Braiden Maggia put his robot in the ring, and put her to work for the judges.

"It's fun, I mean when you get out there you're in the zone, you don't worry about anything else but that," said Maggia.

He explained the inner workings of his very detailed robot.

"This whole robot is made up of aluminum. The drive consists of 6 wheels with four motors on each. You have to program it using those wires and VEX actually has a lot of different sensors to know what the robot is doing," said Maggia.

Braiden has spent about a year working on this robot.

He says it is not perfect yet, but his model is constantly changing.

"The game changes each year so you have to redesign the robot...you can't just have one robot that's so good it beats everyone else's," said Maggia.

Stewart Wood is an engineering teacher in Indiahoma and also a judge at the competition.

"This year they have to, in the autonomous round, they have to pick up a bean bag and place it in different locations on the field and after the 15 seconds of autonomous round the children take over and drive the robot and pick certain bean bags up and put them in certain areas of the track," said Wood.

He says when judging a robot like this one he looks multiple factors: anything from design to sportsmanship and even enthusiasm.

"Are the children running autonomous, in other words are they taking the time to learn the program and the C-language to direct their robot to do what it needs to do...are they doing a good engineering notebook are they keeping track of what they're doing?," said Wood.

Even though Braiden has a blast building and programming his bot...he understands the bigger picture.

He plans are taking his engineering career to the next level one day.

His dream job...a game designer.

"I want to go into computer science which is an engineering major. It's mainly for anything programming," said Maggia.

Wood says these robots teach life skills that extend far from the classroom.

"We're teaching them problem solving. The big idea is coaches, adults say here's this...here's what we need to come up with solve this problem and step back and gently guide them in different directions," said Wood.  

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