The Sacred Heart Robostangs, a team of six 4th graders who impressed the judges with their abilities in self-coaching and execution, won the prestigious Judges Award at the Regional VEX IQ Robotics challenge on Saturday, February 4th. It was a big day for Bay Area robotics as Sacred Heart School in Saratoga hosted the tournament, the largest regional tournament in California.
Sacred Heart fielded eight elementary level VEX-IQ teams from 3rd to 6th grades, including an all-girl’s team, and hosted 46 other elementary and middle school teams including some public schools and three other Catholic schools in our diocese. Thomas Pulchny, Sacred Heart’s principal, is a huge supporter of the robotics program. “When parents witness the electric and exciting engineering atmosphere of a VEX robotics event, and the positive impact it makes on children, they are completely sold on its great benefits. This is a big deal for our Catholic schools,” he explained. Sacred Heart also offers the next level of VEX for its students with its Junior High VEX-VRC team that competes at the middle school, high school, and college/university levels.
An important aspect of the VEX-IQ Robotics Program is the promotion of teamwork, mentorship, engineering, and programming skills. Trevor Salom, Sacred Heart alumni and founding member of the Sacred Heart robotics program and current captain of the Bellarmine Robotics program, won the “Volunteer of the Year” award for his continuous support of the VEX program through mentoring students and assisting students with his knowledge. Trevor’s mother, Dr. Debbi Salom, explained that, “From a parent’s perspective, I couldn’t be happier with robotics. The skills that Trevor and my other children have learned through robotics are lifelong.” VEX robotics involves more than 10,000 teams from 32 countries playing in more than 750 tournaments. Its reach is global.
Six years ago, Sacred Heart began its involvement with the worldwide VEX Robotics program, the first Bay Area Catholic elementary school to do so. Since then, it has twice competed at the VEX World Championships and continues to lead a world-class program. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are the key elements of STEM instruction, and all of these are fully integrated in a meaningful way in Sacred Heart’s Robotics Program.