2021 ROBOCOM | Photo courtesy SISD

SISD’s ROBOCOM 7.0 goes virtual, H.D. Hilley Elementary takes home Inspire Award

Forty-two Socorro ISD robotics teams participated in the seventh annual ROBOCOM 7.0, with the H.D. Hilley Elementary School robotics team, the Robonauts, winning the Inspire award, the top award of the event.

District officials share that although ROBOCOM 7.0 went virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not stop the students from showing their computer programming and critical thinking skills at the two-day competition. The new livestreamed format of the event gave families and friends the opportunity to cheer on their children and favorite teams in a safe, virtual way.

The Robonauts showcased their virtual robot mission run during both rounds of the competition and managed to earn a perfect score during round two, beating their own time and record from round one.

“I am very happy to see the kids come together as a group,” said Emilio Estrada, fifth-grade WIN Academy teacher at H.D. Hilley Elementary School and Robonauts’ coach. “Not only did they win the top award, but they learned how important teamwork really is.”

This is the first year the Robonauts participated in ROBOCOM. Although they had little coding experience, they spent countless hours practicing and preparing so they could be the top winners of the event.

“The level of determination this year was outstanding,” said Stephanie Carrasco, SISD Advanced Academics coordinator. “The long hours put in by the students and coaches is what made ROBOCOM 7.0 a huge success.”

This year’s ROBOCOM theme was “Replay,” which encouraged students to promote physical activity amid remote learning times. The students and coaches took the adjustments they had to make for this year’s ROBOCOM in stride and rose to the challenge of completing their projects in remote, but still collaborative learning environments.

“Although it was very different this year, the kids really enjoyed taking initiative of their projects,” said Raymond Bonilla, Gateway to Technology teacher at Montwood Middle School. “They’ve learned so many new things this year and are ready to take on whatever is thrown their way.”

A drive-by awards ceremony was conducted after the event for the coaches to pick up the accolades for the winning teams in the various ROBOCOM contests. In addition, the H.D. Hilley faculty and staff had a socially distanced and safe drive-by celebration for the Robonauts so the students could go to the school to pick up their awards and take pictures with their coach.

“It warms my heart to see the kids so happy for what they’ve accomplished,” Estrada said. “I wanted them to be aware that what they did is amazing and something they should be proud of.”

Normally, the winners of ROBOCOM advance to the West Texas First Lego League Regional Championship, but due to the pandemic there was no advancement to the regional contest this year.

ROBOCOM 7.0 winners

Innovation Project Presentation
1st Place – Buffalorians – Sgt. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary School
2nd Place – Robo Fitness Squad – Myrtle Cooper Elementary School
3rd Place – Robo Impact – SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School

Core Values Presentation
1st Place – Diamonds in the Rough – Cactus Trails Elementary
2nd Place – CyberneticStallionz – Sierra Vista Elementary School
3rd Place – Tech Avengers – Helen Ball Elementary School

Robot Challenge
1st Place – Robonauts – H.D. Hilley Elementary School
2nd Place – Buff Siths – Sgt. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary School
3rd Place – Robo-Rattlers – Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary School

Breakthrough Award
Robopups – Escontrias Elementary School

Inspire Award
Robonauts – H.D. Hilley Elementary School