Seton School educates through robotics

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Seton School’s VEX Robotics Club has been busy this year, recently hosting its inaugural tournament. VEX Robotics is a program to encourage students to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and to consider related fields for their future careers. Through the program, students come together to design, build, program and drive robots that are entered into competitions with other schools.

 

VEX Robotics first came to Seton School in 2011 when students Brendan Jackson and Manuel Barbara decided they wanted a bigger challenge than the one presented by the SeaPerch Club ( for underwater robots) already at Seton. VEX robots were more complex, more competitive and had computer programming. Over the years, the VEX Club became firmly established at Seton with as many as 20 students in the 2016-17 school year. Several home-schooled and Holy Family Academy students also have participated. 

 

Seton’s VEX Club has had quite a few triumphs — in the past seven years, the club has won the Virginia State Championship Tournament three times and been runner-up once. They have advanced to the world championship five times, giving Seton students the opportunity to compete with teams from all over the world.

 

This past January, Seton hosted a VEX Robotics Tournament that drew 24 teams from Virginia, including Prince William County, Loudoun County and Richmond. “I received very positive feedback from participants at the tournament and we raised over $1,200 that will benefit the VEX Club in the near term,” said science teacher Mark Hoffman, the VEX Robotics adviser and mentor. Hoffman said he hopes to host two VEX tournaments at Seton next school year, possibly co-hosting a third event with All Saints Catholic School in Manassas.

 

“Students who participate in VEX greatly benefit from the experience,” Hoffman said. “In our club, the goal is to advance to the world championship. Learning in high school how to apply yourself to be able to compete against the world’s best provides a great foundation for preparing to be a professional in the 21st century.”

 

In Seton’s Club, students spend nearly a year building a world-class robot. “Learning about gears, motors, pulleys, structure, sensors and programming enables students to develop leading-edge technical skills that can earn them invitations to the best universities in the country and challenging jobs in their future,” he said. 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019