Hereford ISD assembles robotics teams in time for area competition

Students and staff at Hereford ISD show off a robotics bridge device that is being entered in the TCEA Area 16 Robotics Competition in Amarillo (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

The Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Area 16 Robotics Competition is Saturday at Region 16 in Amarillo. Of the 63 teams that have entered to compete, the Hereford Independent School District is sending teams for the first time in district history.

“What took it to get this off the ground is I’ll be honest, I kind of wear two hats,” said Dana Friel, Instructional Technology Coordinator. “I’m the director of TCEA for Area 16 and I said if I’m going to run this competition at Region 16 then were going to compete.”

Hereford ISD is sending 4 teams comprised of students and teachers from three campuses to Saturday’s competition. The district started a robotics program in October of 2017. Students in the robotics program tell ABC 7 News they’ve learned about team work and problem solving.

“I’ve learned that sometimes when your designing things that you might have to start all over again,” said Paul Betzen, student at Hereford Junior High. “It’s a very lengthy process to get to the final result.”

“I’ve learned a lot about how good I am creatively and how good it is to be a team,” said Andrew Dance, student at Hereford Junior High.

The district purchased five robotics kits after sending teachers to various robotics conventions and seminars during the summer of 2017. Teachers who traveled the state and attended the workshops learned how to further help students with STEM skills.

“When they all first came together they wanted to do their individual thing,” said Daniel Sharp, teacher at Hereford Junior High. “They all wanted to build this and that. Through the process of learning they have learned how to work as a team and solve problems as a team. It works better to solve problems as a team than solving it individually.”

“We haven’t had a lot of time to get this together,” said Betzen. “We’ve had to work really hard to get it to this point.”

All four teams from Hereford ISD have entered the Inventions category for Saturday’s competition. Students at Hereford Junior High have constructed a robot designed to make a bridge operate more efficiently.

“All of them have invented something to solve a problem,” said Friel. “They have to give a speech to the judges basically saying what the problem was and how they use their robot to solve it.”

The TCEA Area 16 Robotics Competition starts at 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. Teams who place first and second will advance to a state robotics competition in April at a high school in Austin.

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