Mario-Kart themed robotics competition inspires Henderson co. students

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HENDERSON CO. (N.C.) WSPA — Teachers in Henderson County are getting Middle School students excited about stem skills with a “Mario-Cart” robotics competition.

The competition is based on the Nintendo’s game Mario Kart and its “battle mode,” in which players drive cars with balloons attached to their bumpers in an arena and attempt to pop each other’s balloons. 

It’s a game dating back to the 90s that continues to delight young gamers today.

Hendersonville Middle School teacher Hugh Price saw a Mario Kart-themed competition at a high school on Youtube and decided to hold a similar one between middle schools in Henderson county.

“In robotics it’s a lot of failure and learning from your mistakes and improving your design,” he says. “I think this gets them out of the video game and into a 3-D reality that they’re actually being creative in.”

Using vex robotics materials, a team from Flat Rock Middle School and several from Hendersonville Middle School built remote controlled cars with motorized attack arms and battled for the win. 

The competition had 3 rounds of 5-minute play, awarding points to players based on how many balloons their robots popped and how many players had left at the end of the time limit.

With a goal of attracting students to stem programs before high school, teachers say channeling an interest in video games seems to be effective.

Hendersonville Middle School’s robotics club hopes to make these kinds of competitions county-wide at the middle school level. 

They have another racing competition scheduled at the end of the school year. 

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