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Great Neck students compete and place in VEX IQ robot contest

Kidsday reporters Julia Xu, left, and Chloe Ning,

Kidsday reporters Julia Xu, left, and Chloe Ning, of Lakeville Elementary School, Great Neck, part of the team that won in the regional state VEX IQ competition and qualified for the world championships. Credit: Xu family

We belong to a group of robotics enthusiasts called the Onyx Olympians. We competed on Long Island and against teams from Southern New York in the Vex IQ Challenge and qualified for the Vex Robotics World Championship in April in Louisville, Kentucky.

Vex IQ is a robotics system designed to teach future engineers; it encourages teamwork, problem-solving and leadership. The Vex Robotics World Championship is a big robotics event and involves thousands of competitors. Our group has four members: Julia, Chloe and our two friends.

In the competition, we build robots out of sensors, motors, gears, beams, and other pieces, and we program with Modkit, a software for robotics. We competed in multiple qualifying events and won several awards. In the Southern New York State Championships, we ranked No. 1 in skills among 26 teams and qualified for the world championships. People from all over the world went to Louisville to compete.

The Vex World Championship is a three-day competition at the Kentucky Exposition Center that brings together more than 400 top student-led teams from around the world.

When we arrived at Louisville, we were astounded by how large the competition grounds were. We settled down at our table and looked around. We began to take notice on how the other teams set up their tables — there were banners, flags, and balloons of all different colors. Because there were no matches on the first day, we started exploring. After collecting bags of candy and souvenirs, we headed back to our hotel.

The next day was filled with competition and stress. We had to compete in 10 teamwork matches, paired with teams from China, the United States and Colombia. In a teamwork match, two teams work together to complete the challenge, and both teams receive the same score.

Finally, after three days of competition and anticipation, we went to Freedom Hall for the final competitions. The restless crowd endured 15 minutes of music and lights before the finalists were welcomed onto the stage. The crowd cheered their support. Matches were played until the teamwork champion was determined.

In the end, our team was ranked 30th among about 90 teams in our age group. Our experience in Louisville was amazing and taught us many things. We learned about hard work and accepting failures and moving on. It was a year we will treasure for the rest of our lives. If you want to find out about this for next year, visit

Thomas Hughes’ fifth-grade class, Lakeville Elementary School, Great Neck


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