While most kids are busy playing video games or sports, several dozen teams have months building robots to compete in the Heartland Vex Robotics Tournament on Saturday.
They build robots using guidelines from the popular robotics program called Vex, without the help of their parents. This is the first year competing for Elizabeth Kanudsen.
“It takes a few months to even just strategize and get our robot idea,” says Kanudsen.
“Then it takes a few more months to build it, which takes hours and hours of planning.”
Students use remote controls to move their robots, but also use programming to make them move without one.
Teams compete to get red and blue barrels into different goals using their robots.
Mark Hansen has competed for two years and loves getting to see the robots in action.
“We actually get to show off what we've been building for so long,” says Hansen.
Dan Maline teaches science at St. Patrick's Middle School and has four teams in the competition
He sees robotics as the modern wood making class for this generation.
“Rather than working with wood we're working with metal and taking the technology age, embracing it, allowing ourselves to put the kids in the position to be successful.”
Maline says the kids learn more than just technical skills, they learn how to work with others too.
“These are the future engineers, the people that are going to shape our lives someday and its very important for us to embrace that.”
The top teams will qualify for the National Vex Robotics Championship in March, which is held in Omaha.
The winner will also qualify for the world championship in April.