St. Mary Catholic Schools encourages students to explore their unique passions and curiosities through a diverse selection of curricular and co-curricular opportunities and experiences. VEX IQ Robotics is first exposed at the elementary level through PLTW (Project Lead the Way) modules, and is offered competitively beginning in grade 5. Early exposure to VEX Robotics allows students the opportunity to work on teamwork and problem-solving skills within a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) setting.

SMCS has six VEX IQ teams this season, all of which qualified to compete at the Wisconsin State VEX IQ Championship in March. At the state tournament, four of the six teams qualified for the 2021 VEX IQ Robotics World Championships May 27-29.

In the past, SMCS has had VEX IQ and VEX VRC teams compete in person at Worlds in Louisville, KY. This year, it will be a virtual competition, but the students will still have the opportunity to compete with teams from around the world. The four teams will participate from the SMCMS Media Center.

The VEX IQ annual tournament selects a new game every year that will stimulate teamwork, creativeness and leadership. This year’s VEX IQ game is Rise Above. Two robots compete in the Teamwork Challenge as an alliance in 60-second-long teamwork matches, working collaboratively to score points. Teams also compete in the Robot Skills Challenge where one robot takes the field to score as many points as possible. To learn more about the game, click here.

Students start the season by working with teammates to create a robot specifically designed for Rise Above. Throughout the season, they collaborate with other teams and make modifications to maximize the robot’s abilities. Research and presentation skills are also on display through a variety of opportunities with judges at competitions.

Due to COVID-19, SMCS VEX IQ Coordinator Christine Cedergren was unsure what the experience would be like for the students. As the season went on, competitions were able to take place with safety precautions.

“We were not sure what this season would look like due to COVID-19, but we did ensure the teams that they would have a chance to build robots to meet the challenge,” Cedergren said. “At the time, we were not even sure that there would be competitions. We were, however, able to safely compete at competitions this year with modifications by our tournament hosts.”

Leading up to Worlds, the SMCS teams have been hard at work trying to perfect their robots. Teams have taken the time to prepare for worlds in multiple ways:

  • Working in the STEM lab on programming, minor modifications and driving practice
  • Practice matches with teams from around the world through live remote tournaments
  • Area STEM professionals from Oshkosh Corporation offered their expertise for teams to collaborate with them

Follow along the VEX Robotics 2020-21 World Championship here. You can watch the events live and download the app to stay connectedSMCMS teams will compete May 27-29. The finals, awards and closing ceremonies take place from 7-8:30 p.m. May 29, followed by the new game reveal for next year’s competition.

The SMCS Robotics Program thanks the mentors, local professionals, donors and sponsors that made 2020-21 a successful and memorable year.

If you or your company is interested in supporting our STEM Club, robotics teams or our PLTW teachers, contact Christine Cedergren at [email protected].


Team 1050 A: Supa Hot Fire

Members: Bethany Ruppert, Mia Pable, Izzy Strande and Edward Cedergren
Mentor: Amee Pable
Achievements: Qualified for Worlds, Innovate Award (State), Design Award (FVL VEX Experience)
Worlds Division: Middle School Skills Division

Team 1050 B: Archimedes

Members: Ethan Gustafson and Peter Krautkramer
Mentor: Laura Gustafson
Achievements: Qualified for Worlds, Teamwork 2nd Place Award (State), Teamwork 2nd Place Award (FVL VEX Experience)
Worlds Division: Middle School Remote Tournament – Morning Division

Team 1050 C: Elite Eagles

Members: Johnpaul Foord, Blayke Daczyk and Aiden Tines
Mentor: Katherine Foord
Achievements: Qualified for worlds, Design Award (State), Innovate Award (FVL VEX Experience)
Worlds Division: Middle School Skills Division

Team 1050 E: Flaming Phoenixes

Members: Henry Cedergren, Jacob Post, Micah Post, John Auth and Mina Jackson
Mentor: Tim Post
Achievements: Qualified for State

Team 1050 F

Members: Brody Searl, Halle Janssen and Bitsy McCauley
Mentor: Jeremy Searl
Achievements: Qualified for Worlds, Teamwork 2nd Place Award (State)
Worlds Division: Middle School Remote Tournament – Morning Division

Team 1050 G: Zephyrtechs

Members: Aaron Beckers, Anthony Hellmer, Gibson Rause and Zach Gaab.
Mentor: Dave Rause
Achievements: Qualified for State