Written by Vandy van Epps, Gonzales Enquirer
Kids from across the Gonzales area gathered to showcase their robotics skills at Victoria College Gonzales on Saturday, September 24.
Gonzales 4-H hosted a statewide event on robotics in college for children ages 10 to 17. It was mostly composed of teams from Gonzalez County and Guadalupe County. Many of them are competing with their LEGO robots which are programmed to do certain tasks, set in an obstacle course.
Chantelle Cheetham, director of the 4-H Gonzales Club, has been on the robotics program for three years and was excited to bring the competition to Gonzales.
“We’re finally so old that we decided to do our first contest and we think it went well. So we’re going to go ahead, and during the county show we’ll be hosting another contest, Ag robotics. So it’s a different kind of programming, but the kids are just going to love it,” Cheetham said.
The kids demonstrated their creativity and programming skills at the event and Cheatham praised the students for the amount of work they put into their robots.
“You can see all the effort and all they put into it. We are so proud to watch these kids shine and show off how amazing they are and the work they have done,” Cheetham said.
One of the teams from Gonzalez received the titles of the Greatest Champion and the Greatest Champion of the First Division.
Samuel Uelgen, Nehemia Elizondo and Jesse Holden won first prize in the competition.
Oeltjen and his team were surprised by winning the competition.
“It was crazy. We had a week to prepare, and our competition has a very good track record,” said Oeltjen. “And to get out here and have all the fun. It was really a pretty cool thing.”
Oeltjen explained his hobby and how the competition works.
He explained that they build robots from Legos and they can program them through the computer to make the robot do certain things and tasks, and it has to complete those tasks in a certain amount of time.
“It’s a really cool experience. I just love it. I love robotics. And although it’s new to me, I think everyone should get some of this,” Oeltjen said.
Gail Blodow of the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension University in Gonzales has really been impressed with Cheatham and how the program has evolved over the past three years.
“Her enthusiasm for robotics and STEM is contagious. That is why this program has achieved such success today,” Blodau said.
Bludau was really impressed with the creativity from the various robots that were presented in the competition.
The kids put a lot of work into these robots, and they were “training every week,” Blaudau said.
“The fact that a third-grader knows how to program is incredible. And so after each round, they go back to their table to make adjustments, and change the computer program, so that the robot in the next round is more successful,” Blodau said.
Bludao remembers when Cheetham called her about conducting a robotics competition in Gonzalez, and she wanted one here, she said.
“There is a lot of detail to be done and the competition has to be fair and the registration process was stressful. But now that we’ve gone through for the first time, I’m not afraid anymore, and I’m ready to go[for next year],” said Bludau.
Bladow hopes that next year’s competition in Gonzalez will be even greater than the first year.
“I hope we will have more teams. I am so grateful to Victoria College for having such a great facility for us to use in this competition, because without it, I don’t know how I would have made it possible,” Blaudao said.
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