Abbie Astbury
Examinations Officer
15 November, 2023

BIS HCMC robotics team build and programme two robots to compete at their first VEX Tournament

With STEAM programmes that begin in our Early Years and Infant campus, our students build foundational knowledge of coding and robotics, enabling them to develop computational thinking and innovation from a young age. Young learners begin using block coding programmes and Bee-Bots and build up to more complex programming languages which can then be used to control robots they have built by hand to compete in VEX championships in Secondary. 

If you don’t know what VEX is, it is a worldwide competitive STEAM competition with Robotics at its heart. Once BISHCMC opened again after COVID-19 we had three unassembled kits in school, our students have been building up their expertise and we now have two fully functional robots and are in a position to compete with other schools in HCMC and hopefully further afield. 



Early last Saturday morning 14 students, 3 staff and 2 robots all boarded a school bus and headed down to Saigon South International School to meet 14 other teams to show off our learning. It was a full day of scrimmages for our two team robots, unimaginatively named by Mr. Astbury BIS A and BIS B. 



SSIS had the arena set up on stage for the Tournament. The main aim of the game is to score more Tri-balls in opposing goals, whereby the team's robots have to locate, identify, pick up and transport the balls to the netted goals of the opposite side of the field. There are other challenges, such as firing the tri-balls across the field and having your robot climb a pole. There were 20 qualifying rounds where each team was paired with various other schools to ‘form an alliance’ to compete against another dual team in a tense 2 minutes. The first part of the scrimmage was where the robot had a 15-second autonomous period coded by the students to enable the robot to move without driver interaction. Once the timer pinged, the three students on stage were allowed to take control of the driving and try and get as many Tri-balls into the opponent's net within 1 minute 45 seconds. This was loud, boisterous and tense for all involved. It was also an opportunity for non-competing teams and other team members to learn from successful designs to adapt and alter our own robots to maximise our chance of winning in the next Qualifier. 

The teams worked hard to compete with the other schools that had clearly had much more experience, and longer to test and build their robotics. Despite this, the eventual winners knocked out BIS B in the Quarter Finals and BIS A were knocked out by the same team in the Semi-Finals. This was an excellent result bearing in mind that it was our first ever competition and until last Wednesday we only had one robot that fully worked!

Both BISHCMC robotics teams felt proud, having learnt a tremendous amount, not only about their robots, but also about what it meant to compete in a VEX tournament, problem-solving, and collaborative teamwork. 



So, for now, bring on the next competition, you never know BIS A and BIS B may win and bring home the trophy!