The Wildcat Coders do the robot to U.S. Championships

The Castle Rock Elementary School’s Wildcat Coders win county and state competitions, earning themselves a spot in the U.S. championships in Massachusetts

WOODLAKE – After engineering a path to success in both county and state robotics competitions, the Wildcat Coders of Castle Rock Elementary School are heading to the U.S. championships in June.

The Wildcat Coders took the state championship by storm, securing second place in the overall competition, and earning themselves a ticket to the U.S. Open Championship in Massachusetts. This is the school’s very first year even having a robotics competition, yet they are cranking out wins in every competition this far. This next competition will be June 9-11.

The group of Castle Rock students is composed of five girls and one boy who began training for this competition in September. During their previous competitions, these young minds presented their Lego invention and placed it on a mat, where the robot then performed tasks such as pushing objects, driving around objects and much more.

The goal was to have the robot run for two minutes and thirty seconds by itself. Then, students had to do a presentation where they told the judges about their robotics program, the coding process and everything else they did since they began their robotics journey, according to their lead coach and teacher, Alexandro Castellanoz. The team is also co-coached by teachers Janice Garcia and Evelina Gutierrez, who are new to the robotics competition.

The robotics team was jump started after Castellanoz began teaching in Woodlake in 2021. For being a first-year competing team, Castellanoz said the students did an outstanding job in past competitions, even winning high placing awards.

Their robot is composed of Lego parts and a “brain,” which is the main system of the robot that the students had coded. Castellanoz said the coding of the robot was similar to that of an airplane when it turns. The students programmed the wheels of the robot to move for specific amounts of time, and in certain directions, that way the robot could drive itself around the track without bumping into anything. When asked if this was what they wanted to do in the future, the students had said across the board they all wanted careers in coding and robotics.

It will be the first time Woodlake will see the U.S. championships, but not Castellanoz. At the previous school he taught for, Delano’s Wonderful College Prep Academy, Castellanoz’s team of students made it to the world-wide competition, and competed against teams from Columbia, Australia and a team from Chinese Taipei.

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