APS Sends 11 Teams to VEX Robotics Tourney

Impressive Robotics Teams
Posted on 02/20/2019
Image of VEX Robotics CompetitionAkron Public Schools has a well-earned reputation around the state and nation for its students' skill in creating working robots.

Pioneers are Dan Spak's pre-engineering students in a program called Project Lead the Way (PLTW) at Firestone CLC. But now, other APS schools are at the drawing boards creating new ideas, new robotic innovations.

And they're competitive. As of today, all six Firestone CLC teams (this is their third consecutive year) and five National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) STEM teams have qualified for the state tournament March 1. That's five out of five teams at STEM, led by their teacher Sam Appleby, and six out of the six teams at Firestone qualifying.

So, of the 80 teams at the state tournament, 11 are from APS.

STEM has one world tournament invitation under its belt so far, and Firestone's robotics teams have gone to the World VEX Robotics Tournament three times -- in 2014, 2016 and again last year. Both programs hope to gain more world invitations at the state tournament. But, Spak tells us he feels the real story is just beginning with North and Ellet starting programs next year and with Kenmore-Garfield continuing its work. Buchtel CLC has a new robotics team, and APS will be adding in Litchfield CLC for a middle school team.

"You are about to see the birth of Akron Robotics, with all teams coming under this umbrella," Spak told us. "We'll keep our individual identities to compete but arrive and cheer as a district!"

Spak says they are also discussing developing an Akron league as a way of bringing up new teams and doing two or more Akron invitational tournaments (Firestone, STEM and Ellet).

Spak anticipates a bright future for robotics at APS, saying, “This has been a dream, and its time is almost here.”
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