Mallory Herrmann

Petabyte, a robotics team from Lone Jack High School, competed at the VEX Robotics World Championship during the last week of April. The event, which took place in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted more than 500 teams in the high school division alone.

The competition is a global program with more than 1,700 events across 50 countries, with more than 20,000 participating teams. Divisions include competition opportunities for elementary, middle school, high school and college students.

Byran Danvenport, district technology director, leads the program and helped students prepare for the event. The team was formed about three years ago, and they began working on robots to compete during this season over a year ago.

Davenport says they’ve put in many late nights, even while the students are committed to other activities like sports, volunteerism and of course school. They came in a very close second place at the state competition, scoring well above the rest of the teams in their division.

The team wanted to earn 30 points at the state competition and that’s what they did.

Petabyte has faced some hurdles: the technology they used this season is version 4, while most other teams are using version 5 to compete. The newer tech is stronger and faster and it has better features, making their strong performance throughout the season even more impressive.

“Our programming skills were far superior,” Davenport says of the work the team did.

Though they had ordered the new version 5 technology awhile ago, it had been back ordered and arrived just before the world competition. The team elected not to make any changes: while they could earn a boost in speed, it would also mean learning a new program right before the competition after all their training and practice with version 4.

The team won their first two rounds at the world competition but then their robot shorted out. They went into the last round as the underdogs.

“They would never give up,” Davenport says. “They would not accept defeat.”

Davenport says part of the competition was meeting other teams: the students have enjoyed getting to collaborate with other robotics teams since the event. And with the close of this season, the team looks forward to meeting new challenges with the new technology.