INspirational People: Manoa Elementary School’s robotics team

INspirational People

At Manoa Elementary School, there’s a phrase many of the young students live by — set goals, reflect, rethink, improve, and then set new goals.

And nowhere is that line of thinking more evident than on the Tigers robotics team, made up of fourth and fifth graders who together won three major awards at the recent 2018 Vex IQ World Championship.

Pretty impressive for a team that started just five years ago on a small grant and single robot.

“We just had to make sure that they got better at every tournament. Improve the robots they improve their scores for programming,” said Terry Mitsuda, the robotics coach at Manoa Elementary School.

Turns out they did more than just improve. 

First they won the state title, followed by the regional competition which earned them a ticket into the world championships, where they entered three teams to compete against the top 400 teams from around the world.

“When we went to worlds we were all nervous,” said team member Rylan Gupatan.  “Once the match started we were afraid to mess up because we wanted to represent Hawaii but we actually did pretty good better than what we thought.”

Turns out not only better than they thought, but all three teams excelled. 

One of them captured second place in the robotics skills challenge.  Another team took first place in their division for the STEM research award in Science, Technology Engineering and Math.  The third team captured the biggest honor of all … the Excellence Award.

“I was kind of confused that we actually won but I was very excited and happy that we won because we put so much work into it,” said team member Brendan Kajioka.

“It was so exciting. And I didn’t believe that all three teams got it and it was amazing because out of all the other teams and schools we got it,” said team member Katelyn Kato. 

And now they get to do it all over again with the fifth graders taking the leading role with a whole new group of fourth graders.

“This year it seems harder and we have to build a whole other robot but all the work we put into it is worth it in the end because we get to go to worlds if we do good,” said Kato.

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