Tollgate MS Competes in World Robotics

Aidan Maganahalli and Gavin Heater run a match with their robot, Godzilla, at the 2022 VEX Robotics World Championships.  The World Championship saw teams from 36 countries compete in Dallas, TX, May 3-12, 2022. Maganahalli and Heater named their team “The Rookies”, along with teammate Nakota Garee (not pictured). Photo by Theresa Garee

May 26, 2022
By Maya Garee, Pickerington Online Intern
& Pickerington Central Freshman

On May 8th in Dallas, Texas, kids from all over the world went head-to-head showing their robot skills. You could see people from countries including the Cherokee Nation to the Ivory Coast to the United Kingdom. But one team stuck out in particular: our team, Tollgate Robotics from Pickerington Tollgate Middle School. 

It was Tollgate Robotics’ first time to Worlds and the teams that made it were named; “The Rookies”, “The Purple Pigeons” and “Cosmos on G-Fuel”. Our teams have only ever gone as far as states.  I asked The Rookies how it felt being at such a big competition. 

Nakota Garee said, “Stressful, because you just are running around everywhere and don’t know what to do.” 

The teams waited for their time to compete in an area called the “pits”, and when their turn came around they would have to run to the fields to make it on time. 

Aidan Maganahalli said that the competition could be “scary . . . to go back, miss stuff and do bad.” 

Aidan Maganahalli (5th grade), Gavin Heater (6th grade) and Nakota Garee (5th grade), stand in front of their decorated sign at the 2022 VEX Robotics World Championships. Photo by Theresa Garee

Many announcements were broadcast over a loudspeaker, and if you missed it you could be marked down for something. There were also times that fields would be ahead of schedule. If you didn’t know what match they were on, you would be marked as a zero and mess up your whole score. 

As I lead you through the days of the competition, we will follow the Rookies. It was the team’s first time doing Tollgate Robotics. They made it to the finals because of their notebooking, which showcased how much they had grown since the beginning of the season. Since the Rookies made it to Worlds because of their growth, they were placed in the Research Division.

The first day of competition, the teams were only able to do skills and compete in a practice match. So the Rookies decided to do driving skills, having Gavin Heater be the driver. Gavin earned a score of 26.

On the second day of competition, all the teams started their matches. The Rookies competed seven times. They also did more driving skills and a coding skill called “Aptominus”. At the end of the day, the Rookies were in 67th place with an average score of 65.33.

On the third and last day of competition, the team competed in three matches and ended up in 66th place overall. The Rookies tried their hardest and did everything they could to make it to Worlds which they did, and when they got there they didn’t stop trying. 

When you see something you want, reach for it, and keep trying – even if things don’t go exactly as you had hoped. The Rookies were aiming for first but instead got 66th, that doesn’t mean they failed – it means they will try even harder next time. 

Addendum from the competition’s website:

“The 2022 VEX Robotics World Championship, presented by Northrop Grumman Foundation and the REC Foundation, brought over 3,000 teams from 36 nations together to celebrate STEM excellence. Student-led teams ranging from elementary to university-level showcased their strategy, teamwork, and desire to be crowned champions at this world-class global event held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.”