The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will host its first VEX Robotics Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the basketball courts in the Donaghey Student Center.
VEX IQ is a snap-together robotics system designed from the ground up to provide educational opportunities to future engineers of all skill levels. The VEX IQ program, which is for elementary school students, is the predecessor for robotics competitions at the middle school/high school (VEX EDR) and university (VEX U) levels.
More than 50 teams made up of over 300 team members from the third grade to the university level, including UA Little Rock’s own Just a Prototype team, are expected to compete. The event is free and open to the public. The best time for the public to view the competition is between 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m.
Volunteers are needed to help with registration, inspection, and field setup as well as serve as judges and referees. Those interested in volunteering mayfill out this online form.
Sandra Leiterman, math specialist in the UA Little Rock Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Educational Center, said the event is an invitational tournament for new teams and coaches that have never competed before. It is part of the university’s effort to get educators and students interested in robotics. Over the summer, the STEM Center held two professional development events for educators interested in starting robotics teams at their schools.
Leiterman is the coach of the only VEX U robotics team in Arkansas. While most robotics teams are staffed by engineering students, UA Little Rock’s squad, dubbed Just a Prototype, is made up of future math and science teachers who will one day start school robotics teams.
In the upper right photo, the Just a Prototype robotics team members include: Back row (L-R) Jamie Burrows, Rachel Smith, Shala Nail, and Donetha Groover. Front row (L-R) David Shurley, FLN the robot, and Faculty Advisor Sandra Leiterman.