By Trishna Buch
If you recall, a previous edition of The Post contained an article about Harvey Cappel. Cappel is a mechanical engineer who volunteers
with the Texas City Independent School District, where middle and high school students are able to take classes in the STEM subjects.
One of these STEM subjects is Robotics and, when I interviewed Cappel, I was provided the opportunity to visit a Robotics class at Blocker Middle School and view the students’ hard work. Being that I am someone who has no knack for robotics, or any of the STEM subjects for that matter, I was very impressed with what I saw. The machines the students were creating were way beyond anything I could have ever created and I was not surprised when I learnt that the students had qualified for many different robotics competitions, taking place over the
past few months. And just recently, I found out that four Robotics students from Blocker Middle School and Texas City High School qualified for SkillsUSA Nationals. According to the Texas City Independent School District’s newsletter, this is the first time the schools have qualified for this competition “after winning two State Championships earlier this month.” The students who are advancing to Nationals are Celeste Lindusky and Farrell Moeller, who earned Gold in the Mobile Robotics Technology division, and Alana Lee and Diara Tsikis, who earned Gold in the Robotics: Urban Search and Rescue – Exploratory division. I managed to get in contact with James Jobe, Texas City High
School robotics teacher, who had some thoughts about the accomplishments: “In SkillsUSA competition, we have been knocking on
the door for a while now, with a 2nd in 2016 and a 3rd in 2017 behind only Richardson HS,” he said. “To finally win a state championship in
SkillsUSA over the most successful school in the history of that specific event is a great feeling. The students going to nationals are going
to be the team to beat, and have a very strong chance at being national champions this year. Adding the Blocker teams who won their own state championship in their first year is pretty unbelievable. The Blocker girls will be strong contenders at nationals. All of this goes to show the strength of the program that TCISD is building, and what giving students the access to equipment and facilities can do in a very short time.” Jobe added: “Our robotics program as a whole has had an amazing year. This year we have grown our VEX program to five teams at TCHS, added a class and team at Blocker, and several classes and two teams at La Marque HS. TCHS was arguably the most dominant school in the state in VEX robotics winning 12 tournament championships, 5 excellence awards, 5 design awards, 2 robot skills championships,
and playing ourselves in a tournament final 4 times. Two of our robots partnered together to reach the state final, qualifying for VEX Worlds for the third straight year. Our Blocker team was the only middle school team to win a tournament championship in a high school event, spent much of the season as the number one ranked team in the state, and reached the quarterfinals at the state tournament in their
first year.” He also spoke more about the TCISD robotics program, saying: “This is our 4th year in SkillsUSA and our 3rd in VEX competition. We started both competitions with a handful of students and have rapidly spread both to three schools. Next year, through a grant from Dow, we are introducing robotics to students as young as 4th grade at Roosevelt-Wilson Elementary and Levi Fry Intermediate. We are also starting a program at La Marque Middle School. The three new programs have already started introducing students to the basics and will compete in VEXiq competition next fall. We look forward to spreading STEM principles through robotics programming and
design to students at all district campuses of the next few years.” The Post wishes the students the best in the competition, which takes place from June 25th to June 29th.
By Trishna Buch