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June 3rd, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
Five young elementary school students from St. Luke Elementary School in Temple City had no idea that in eight months time they would go from a young, underdog robot building team to a Cinderella second-best in the world, besting numerous high school aged teams.
Thoughts of things like torque and gear ratios were totally foreign to them less than a year ago, and now it is part of their everyday vocabulary as they continually brainstorm how their next robot is going function.
Their journey started last November when they decided to build a robot for a local VEX Robotics Competition at the California Academy of Math and Science High School (CAMS), on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus. When the five middle school students from St. Luke, Kevin Kuan and Garrett Stone, 8th grade, and Bryan Kuan, Katelyn Stone, and Jason Salvador, 6th grade started working on their robot, little did they know where this journey was going to take them.
At that first competition, they were elated to came in First Place, receiving the Excellence Award for Top All-Around Team. Having won that competition, they qualified to compete in the VEX Robotics Competition of the Americas which would host competitors from North, South, and Central America, in Omaha, Nebraska, at the beginning of April 2009.
Though the team had plenty of confidence that they had built a unique and competitive robot, they now had to prove it to the rest of the Americas. In Omaha they were completely astonished when they won the final round and captured the distinction of First Place in the Middle School category and the Amaze Award at the VEX Robotics Competition of the Americas. They had done it.
This win qualified them now to compete against the big guys in the VEX Robotic World Competition in Dallas, Texas. They had less than a month to prepare themselves for the adventure of a lifetime. But without the slightest hesitation, they packed their bags and were on their way. On May 1, 2009 they traveled to Dallas were the unbelievable students competed against over 270 teams, of which 250 were high school level teams from China to New Zealand and all over the world.
The St. Luke Elementary School Team won all six of their qualifying rounds placing Second overall in the technology division and ranking First overall the middle schools as they headed into the quarterfinals. They selected two of their mentor teams from CAMS to compete with them as their alliance team members.
The St. Luke Robotic team overwhelming won the quarter and semi-final rounds. This rookie middle school team could not believe that they made it this far. Going into the final round they were anxious and ecstatic. They battled it out and captured a remarkable Second Place in the VEX Robotics World Championship Competition.
With their amazing performance, these young scientists indisputably showed the World that the United States will not be left behind, and that they may even hold the key to the future math, science and technology.