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CARBONDALE — While gymnasiums are home to competitions in volleyball or basketball, a different kind of competitor took over Carbondale Community High School gymnasium Saturday — robots. Students and their metal creations competed in the 2018 VEX Robotics Competition.

A total of 21 teams from Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri, from the Chicago area to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, competed. Nine teams will qualify to move on to the state championships. Of those 21 teams, three were from CCHS and five from Mount Vernon Township High School.

In this competition, teams of students created robots to perform tasks to complete a game, which changes each year.

“This year’s event is called In the Zone,” Dallas Terry, career education coordinator at CCHS, said. “Each teams has mobile goals they must move past the pipes for points, and they are red and blue. Yellow cones add points.”

Matches are held on 12-foot by 12-foot mats. Teams of two form alliances, red and blue, to compete in matches lasting about one minute (minus instructions). Each match pits two alliances against each other and the clock.


The Crusaders team of Carbondale Community High School battle a team from Collinsville during a robotics tournament Saturday at CCHS. 

There are 80 cones that can be stacked on 10 goals (five per alliance). Some goals start in designated locations on the mat. Others can be entered into the field during the match. Robots must be smaller than 18 inches in length, width and height. A total of 46 matches were held throughout the day.

While robots battle in one ring, others are being set up for competition. Between matches, competitors repair and readjust their robots, sometimes making engineering modifications on the spot.

“We have Carbondale Community High School teachers and SIU students helping run the matches. SIU staff are judging,” Terry said.

Terry added that the event would not be possible without the help of SIU staff and students and CCHS faculty and staff.



Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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