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Robotics and STEM

Tinkering Engineers

The path towards a passion for STEM starts early at Potomac. Curious minds are sparked through fun and intentional tinkering and engineering. 

Students have many opportunities to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math activities both in the classroom and in co-curricular activities. By building a student's tool box and STEM skill set, students will competently and confidently achieve technology standards and skills in exciting ways.



The Upper School Robotics team 12H finished as division champions and advanced to the finals at the VEX Robotics World Championships in Dallas – the largest robotics competition in the world. They finished second in the world – a school and Virginia State record. The event was presented by the Northrop Grumman Foundation and the REC Foundation, and some sponsors include NASA and Google. Congrats to our robotics program!

Tech and Innovation

Tech and Innovation LS Robotics


Through teamwork, play, and problem solving, robots help students develop key thinking skills in the exciting field of coding and robotics. In K-5 technology classes, all students engage with VEX robotics through building and coding challenges. Students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to join a competitive robotics team, offering a motivating environment to learn and push STEM skills to new levels.

What the vex?

By its nature, the study of robotics inherently incorporates all four pillars of STEM. VEX IQ is a snap-together robotics system designed to provide an opportunity for future engineers of all skill levels. Through incorporating advanced concepts into an accessible package, the system also naturally encourages teamwork, problem solving, and leadership.

Working with the VEX IQ platform gives the students a foundation in engineering design and programming at the Middle School age that will continue in the Intermediate School and directly translate to VEX Robotics in the Upper School. The VEX IQ platform introduces students to VEXCODE programming, which uses a standard coding system that can expand into Python.

Why Robotics?

Co-oper-tition and generosity of spirit

There is a tern in robotics: co- oper- tition. It is preparing, training and doing your very best in a contest while also showing deep kindness and respect, to your opponent, especially when it matters. 

Our robotics program sent two teams to compete in the national finals of the U.S. Open Robotics championship. Both teams were well-prepared, skilled and highly competitive eager, to win the championship.  In that final match, one team- perhaps the stronger team, had a malfunction- their robot needed to be repaired and could not continue without a timeout. The team used a 30 second timeout, but unfortunately, they did not have enough time to make all the necessary repairs.

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Potomac Robotics Tournament US Recap

As shared in our featured stories, Potomac hosted a VEX Robotics competition last weekend. In the high school division, eight of our teams earned a spot in the elimination rounds, with four teams making it to the quarterfinals. Team 12C: Chips ’n Fish (Tony Diller ’26, Julian Mankovsky ’27, and Nikhil Kothari ’27 took home the Robot Skill Champions trophy, returning the team to the number one ranking in the State of Virginia and moving them up to #42 out of over 4,500 teams competing around the world. Their win also qualified them for a spot in the Virginia State Championship Tournament in March. View photos from the tournament.

Robotics Competes in Two Tournaments

Before the break, four Upper School robotics teams competed in the regional Sugar Rush VRC Signature Tournament in Hershey, Pennsylvania: 12C Fish ’n’ Chips (Julian Mankovsky ’27, Nikhil Kothari ’27, Tony Diller ’26), 12E Error by Design (Charlie Holtman ’26, Nik Bhargava ’26, Matthew Gardner ’26, and David Gardner ’24, and 12F Festive Flamingos (Avery Miller ’26 and Kate Myslewicz ’27, Shlok Kuchangi ’27, Sophia Sultan ’27), and 12Z Zap (sophomores Alejandra Villafuerte, Katie Lee, Quentin Toner, Sophia Vilela, and Sam Rubin). 

Separately, three teams competed in the local VRC Seton Christmas Tournament in Manassas, VA: 12G Puzzles (freshmen Cole Peterson, Santi Cangahuala, Sam Kim, Lakan Singson), 12X Tropix (juniors Ava Moazzez, Ben Muhlendorf, Brayden Nelson, Elaina Song, Erim Ozcan, Ritvik Bandi) and 12Y Potomac School Robotics (juniors Adam Bhatti, Andrew Mu, Luke Brittin, Michael Giuliano). Tropix won the Tournament, securing their spots in the Virginia State Championships. They also earned the Design Award, recognizing a team’s ability to document and explain their engineering design process through the engineering notebook and interview. 

In addition, teams Fish ’n’ Chips and Tropix were featured on the VEX YouTube channel Pits and Parts. Watch the interview. After Winter Break, the teams will compete in the Potomac Tournament on January 13-14 in the Spangler Culp Main Court. Parent volunteers are appreciated and may sign up here.

The Wave Was No Match for Potomac Robotics

Last week, three Potomac robotics teams traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, to compete in the Wave Robotics Tournament at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The teams representing the school were 12C Fish ’n Chips (Tony Diller ’26, Julian Mankovsky ’27, and Nikhil Kothari ’27); 12X Tropix (juniors Erim Ozcan, Elaina Song, Brayden Nelson, Ben Muhlendorf, Ritvik Bandi and Ava Moazzez); and 12D Dinos (Lauren Lovallo ’25, Charlotte Gabriel ’25, Tami Aje ’25, Sydney Irwin ’25, and Natalia Vilela ’24).

Potomac competed against 78 teams from 15 states and Canada. Team 12C won the Amaze Award, which “is presented to a team that has built an amazing, high-scoring robot that clearly demonstrates overall quality.” They placed ninth in the qualification round before making it to the quarterfinals, where they placed sixth in the Robot Skills competition. Team 12X placed 33rd overall during qualifications. As a result of the tournament, 12C is currently ranked number 34 in the World Skills Rankings and number one in Virginia, with Team 12X closely following in second.

The season continues December 15 through 17, with competitions in Manassas, VA, and Hershey, PA. 

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