At Windward, we focus on more than just FRC and invest time into our VEX middle school team to provide an introduction to robotics for our newer team members and give them experience in robotics, code, and leadership. The VEX option has brought many new students to robotics that wouldn’t have joined otherwise, and have been very valuable to our team’s development.
We have won a variety of awards in VEX robotics and have learned that having it in the FRC off-season is an effective way to keep people active in robotics throughout the entire school year. We have found that VEX is a good platform to get middle schoolers interested in and learning about robotics, and that having them on our team gives them valuable experience that makes FRC both more enjoyable and easier when they get to high school and begin working with FRC.
From the start of our time in the High Desert League we performed extremely well. In our first year participating in the league, our team 5871C Ocelotta Problems, along with our alliance partners Team 7422 Robotic Burros, won the league championship. From here, 5871C went on to be semifinalists at states in La Verne California. That same year, Windward teams also were in the other tournament finalist alliance, won the teamwork award, and the think award. The next year, multiple of our teams also qualified for states and nationals due to their performances in league, but they were unable to attend due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Our school also values robotics as a whole, and there is a VEX elective that 8th graders can choose to take for half a year. This elective has proved to bring many new students to robotics that wouldn't have necessarily joined otherwise and has been very valuable in our team's development.