Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!
Teams of students work with a robot kit preparing for one of two events - arena competition or invention. In arena, their robots must perform a series of tasks within a two minute period on a predetermined course. In "invention, students use the robots to tackle a real-world problem. Their robot can actually solve the problem or can act as a prototype for a robot that will be built on a larger scale.
I was only able to stay for the first part of the day so I only saw students in the "intermediate" category - those in grades 4 through 8. I was very impressed! The spirit of competition on the arena stages was intense. In the invention room, students displayed great problem solving and incredible presentation skills as they basically had the "sell their idea" to the judges.
Seeing students excited about technology and learning in general was a great way to spend a Saturday. Next year, I will be sure to attend again and I'll be sure to take a team (or two or three or four) with me! For more info on TCEA's contests, see their Robotics Web page.