Registration Opens for 2019 VEX Summer Camp

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Camp Newaygo will once again play host to our annual Summer Camp.  This is our sixth year running a camp focused on the current year VEX EDR Challenge.  The camp, which has been run by RoboDawg head coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer for seven consecutive years, will run from Sunday, August 4 through Thursday, August 8, 2019.

Camp details are below.  Capacity is limited – to register, use this link:

https://campscui.active.com/orgs/GrandvilleRobotics?orglink=camps-registration

This year’s camp will be back in the main lodge at Camp Newaygo, and all campers will stay in air-conditioned bunk rooms with full access to indoor restroom and shower facilities. Our build and competition space will be in the new Leadership Lodge. Campers will spend time each day in outdoor camp activities.

This camp will be all about the bots. Working in small teams, students will use the VEX® Robotics Design System to compete in fun daily challenges based on the 2019-2020 VEX Challenge. The VEX® Robotics Design System is both user-friendly and powerful. It’s the same system used in major regional and national robotics competitions, as well as in many high school and university-level robotics classes.

Campers will use the VEX® Robotics Design System to build a frame and base, interchange wheels and treads, create geared armatures and engineer wiring. Your team’s bot will have to adapt to compete in autonomous and user-piloted challenges based on the 2019-2010 VEX Challenge. This camp will require that participants design and build complex mechanical devices, and that they complete programming. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about building with complex robotic sensors, advanced robot arms, and geared drive trains. At the end of the camp, students will have a fully-developed strategy for the VEX Challenge announced in April, 2019, and they will have experience with the mechanical and programming concepts required to build a highly competitive robot.

The youngest students accepted into the camp will be entering 7th grade in the fall, and the oldest camp attendees will start their freshman year of college in the fall.

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RoboDawgs win Monroe County Fair VEX Tournament

RoboDawg teams traveled to play at the first Michigan VEX Robotics Tournament of the 2018-2019 season on Saturday, August 4.  Our teams had a great day, with two RoboDawg team (248D and 248E) winning the event and bringing home another set of Champion trophies.

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RoboDawg teams move on to play at West Michigan VEX Championship

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The Grandville High School Robodawgs, winners of last year’s West Michigan Regional Championship and defending State Champions, roll into this year’s West Michigan Regional Championship prepared to win it all again.

The RoboDawgs have never  played as well as they have this season.  Losing only one Tournament in the last twelve months, the RoboDawgs have been almost perfect.  There are currently two RoboDawg teams among the top 50 High School VEX teams in the world.  Six RoboDawg teams currently rank in the top 150 teams in the world.

RoboDawg teams have won every League they played in this year, and they have the best Tournament record of any program in Michigan.  Tournament results this year include:

  • October – West Michigan VEX High School Halloween Challenge –
    • Seven of the top ten teams at this 40 team event were RoboDawg teams.
    • RoboDawg teams in the top ten won 30 and lost 10.
    • We were Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Create Award, Build Award, Design Award
  • October – North West Michigan GTACS VRC Qualifier –
    • Six of the top ten teams at this 40 team event were RoboDawg teams.
    • RoboDawg teams in the top ten won 33 and lost 9.
    • We were Tournament Champions, Design Award, Robot Skills Winner, Judges Award
  • November – Hudsonville Robotics In the Zone Tournament –
    • Seven of the top ten teams at this 46 team event were RoboDawg teams.
    • RoboDawg teams in the top ten won 33 and lost 9.
    • We were Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Build Award, Design Award, Robot Skills Winner
  • December – West Michigan VEX Holiday Tournament –
    • Ten of the top twenty teams at this 60 team event were RoboDawg teams.
    • RoboDawg teams in the top twenty won 47 and lost 13.
    • We were Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Create Award, Robot Skills Winner
  • December Grand Traverse Academy In the Zone Tournament –
    • Four of the top ten teams at this 45 team event were RoboDawg teams.
    • RoboDawg teams in the top ten won 21 and lost 3.
    • We won the Excellence Award, Think Award
  • December – Notre Dame Preparatory VEX Tournament –
    • Five of the top ten teams at this 48 team event were RoboDawg teams.
    • RoboDawg teams in the top ten won 26 and lost 4.
    • We were Tournament Champions, Create Award, Design, Award, Think Award, Innovate Award, Robot Skills Winner
  • January – Jenison Robotics In the Zone VRC Tournament –
    • Ten of the top twenty teams at this 60 team event were RoboDawg teams.
    • RoboDawg teams in the top twenty won 45 and lost 14.
    • We were Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Build Award, Create Award, Design Award, and Robot Skills Winners

Come out and see us at the West Michigan Regional VEX Robotics Championship on Saturday, January 27th.  The event runs from 9am-4pm at Grandville High School.

An unimaginable loss

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You don’t hear people talk much about legends any more.  This post is not intended to be political in any way – it is a tribute to a man whom none can speak poorly of.  A legend who lived among us.

Last night, Chris VanderSlice passed away after a nearly four year battle with leukemia.  I knew Chris for nineteen years, and I have hundreds of personal experiences with him in all kinds of situations.  Chris was always seeking the best for everyone around him.  He had energy to match his height, and I saw him take on everything – he never faded from the pursuit of what was right.  He had a passion for young people, and I watched him tirelessly advocate for students.

Chris was an inspiration to so many of us.  His strength of character and commitment to our young people inspired me.  His encouragement and support inspired thousands of students.

I picked the picture that starts this post carefully.  It shows Chris as we all knew him.  It was taken in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2009.  Most people don’t know this, but Chris was a huge proponent of the Grandville robotics program.  In 2009, a group of our sixth graders signed on to play BotBall – a robotics competition primarily for high school students.  Chris was an assistant principal at the middle school, and he thought this was a great challenge for these young people.  Our young students went on to place in the top three teams at a Regional event in St. Louis, earning them an opportunity to play at the National Championship in Washington D.C.  This event was over the 4th of July, when many school employees are getting some time away, but Chris was right there with us.

I learned a lot from the way Chris lived his life over the years, but his approach to facing cancer had an even bigger impact on me (and thousands of students).  “Grit” became a standard part of everyone’s view of life, and the grit Chris displayed in fighting cancer was an example for all of us.  Losing Chris leaves a huge pair of shoes to fill.  The world has too few legends, but he certainly was a legendary leader to those around him.  I’ll close with one of my favorite “Chris tweets,” and a couple more photos from that hot July trip to Washington D.C.  that a bunch of sixth graders shared with him.  Goodbye Chris, you will never be forgotten.

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Grandville High School RoboDawgs set State and National records – and head off to VEX World Championship

The Grandville High School RoboDawgs are having their best VEX Robotics season ever – and they continue to break state and national records for high school robotics teams.  In February, Grandville broke state and national records by qualifying twelve High School VEX teams for the Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship.  The RoboDawgs brought home Champion, Finalist, and Semifinalist trophies from that State Championship – and they qualified six RoboDawg VEX teams to play at the VEX World Championship.  These six teams also claim a state and national record – no other public high school in America qualified six teams for the World Championship.

This Wednesday, Grandville High School will send off more than two dozen RoboDawgs and mentors to the VEX World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.  On their way to this accomplishment, RoboDawg teams were Champions or Finalists in eleven tournaments and leagues – and they won both the West Michigan Regional Championshp and the Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship.  The teams’ 2016-2017 competition record is below, along with key awards won at each event:

Tournament Play

  • October – Northwest Michigan Regional VEX Qualifier – Six of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Judges Award
  • October – West Michigan Halloween Tournament – Six of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Tournament Finalists, Robot Skills Champion
  • November – Hudsonville VEX Robotics Tournament – Five of the top eight teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Finalists, Excellence Award, Design Award, Build Award
  • December – West Michigan Holiday Tournament – Five of the top eight teams were RoboDawg teams.  Tournament Finalists, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • January – Jenison VEX Robotics Tournament – Five of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Design Award, Build Award
  • January – Grand Traverse Academy Regional VEX Qualifier – Five of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Finalist, Design Award, Think Award
  • February – Belding VEX Tournament – Four of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Excellence Award

League Play

  • September – Early Fall Tuesday VEX League – League Champion, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • November – Late Fall Tuesday VEX League – League Champion, Excellence Award
  • November – Late Fall Thursday VEX League #1 – League Champion, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • November – Late Fall Thursday VEX League #2 – League Champion, Excellence Award, Design Award

Regional and State Championships

  • January – West Michigan Regional Championship – Six of the top eight teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • February – Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship – Tournament Champions, Tournament Finalists, Tournament Semifinalists, Robot Skills Champion