Should Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers be Allowed to Compete Together?

Recently I went to a competition and when I started to look around I noticed something. The majority of the teams were from middle schools. Up to this point I had not noticed how much this happens at competitions. Though, looking back at it this is unfair to middle school teams and an advantage to high school teams. I understand how at states and worlds middle schoolers and high schoolers are divided into different competitions but what about before this? Are high schoolers to shine while middle schoolers are bound to think they aren’t good enough? Please answer honestly I know this is an advantage to many people that may read this as it is to me but, please think about how you would feel as a middle schooler. Also excuse this conversation or please help me find any previous conversations discussing this if they do exist.

From my point of view, there are two reasons that I love the fact the competition is combined during Indiana’s regular season. Our organization is primarily middle school, and they learn so much by looking at the high school robots at every competition. It is also really great practice to prepare all season against older teams, and then when you get to the Middle School State Championships, you could possibly be the best prepared team at the competition.

The reason that Indiana doesn’t have tournaments specific to Middle School and High School is that we don’t have enough middle school teams to consistently fill up an entire tournament. There are around 41 middle school teams who will make the state championships in Indiana this year, but considering there are scheduling conflicts every weekend, not all 41 could get to a single competition on the same weekend.

It might be unfair in some aspects, but (especially when Middle School states and Upper/High School states are separated) I truly think it helps in the long run.

If we didn’t have mixed events, the middle schoolers would often have not competition to attend.

Also, middle school teams routinely win tournaments in mixed events, and not just as a second round pick.

Good point. Indiana has two really strong middle school teams (one from central IN, one from the north IN), that are competitive at nearly every event they attend.

cough, cough Pigpen cough, cough

Ok I may have forgot the “full disclosure” part of that :).

Here in Wisconsin, we have found that as more and more of our High School teams are made up of students that competed in Middle School, they are better prepared to produce top quality robots. Over the past 4-5 years here, the top Middle School teams have a very difficult time competing with the top High School teams. Therefore, at mixed events, the Middle School teams often don’t find their way into the automatic qualifying spots for their state. We have evolved into running several mixed events (as we do think it is good for the Middle School teams to compete against the High School teams on occasion), running several events that have a MIddle School Tournament along side but separate from a High School Tournament as well as having some High School only events and a few Middle School only events. This gives many Middle School teams the opportunity to win Awards that they might not have a shot at in a mixed event.

I am a middle schooler and I think we should compet toghether

Both Middle School and High School teams seem to be quite equal in terms of how good their robots are.

I am a middle school student, (the only student on my team, as a matter of fact), and I have won one qualifying tournament, and expect to win states (state? statatesss?).

Middle schoolers are totally qualified to compete against high schoolers.

If only I had that level of confidence in myself and my robot

I agree with this point though, if middle schoolers weren’t good enough and never won anything I’m sure RECF or VEX would make them separate

I only say that because I know two robots in Tennessee as good as or better than mine. One of them is a really good friend, and the others are their sister team.

Not trying to be conceited as it may sound…

I think middle school teams should compete with high school teams because when i was in middle school, we competed against high school teams, and while we were easily one of the worst teams in the state, my teammates and i learned a lot of valuable information that helps us find success now.

I’m a middle schooler and I think middle schoolers should absolutely compete with high schoolers. In North Carolina, VEX is pretty small (we only have 10 or 15 middle school teams), so if they were separate, middle schoolers could not compete. Also, I should point out that as a middle school team, we did absolutely fine and were actually very good compared to other NC high school teams. And there is always the middle school excellence award.

I loved it when we split into MS and HS events. Many times the MS teams would be fodder for the high schoolers. But sometimes the MS teams beat the HS teams. IQ has taken the number of VRC middle school teams away as two larger programs in our area have decided an IQ only middle school route.

Early season events are usually the best time for mixed events as it is generally the more experienced or advanced sets of MS teams coming to play. You get good practice by elevating your competition in any kind of event.

In the past the VRC-Middle teams were rookies, they fed into and made more powerful the HS teams. Sometimes the MS teams would win.

I’m working on changing that dynamic with 44 Elementary VIQ teams pouring into the MS teams next year (and the year after that). At the MS / HS level I’ll have teams with min 3 years experience by the roboteers. In 2025 I’ll have my first batch of 9 year experts.

We split when possible, but it’s about seeing what others have engineered.

And now that the V5 looks like VIQ brain, it will be an easier transition.

As a previous middle-schooler , first year competing in high school now, it was very nice to be able to compete against high-schoolers. When competing it was very nerve-racking , because you’re going against very good teams (depending on your state and opinions). This opportunity allows you to see new ideas, come up with new strategies, meet new people, and also shows where you’re standing robot-wise around your region or even the world!

The only difference between middle schools teams and high school teams is work ethic. If middle schoolers work hard, there is nothing stopping them from competing at a high school level.

We didn’t compete against any middle school teams to my knowledge until state and we made it to worlds in both of my middle school years. Middle schoolers are not at much of a disadvantage. The most important thing was having a coach willing to put in the time.

This is the first year for Indiana to have a seperate middle school state championship tournament. My son was on a middle school team his first year that was the first year for everyone on the team except one person. They still made it to worlds competing against high school teams.

After that year, we started a new program and another team also broke off of that original all home school team. Our teams have been the least competitive but this year, one of our middle school teams has the fifth highest skills score in the state and the second highest middle school score in the state. The highest is a team that has the 3rd highest middle school skills score in the world and better than all but 11 high school teams in the world.

I have seen very competitive tournaments where two of the three teams in the championship alliance are middle school teams and often the alliance captain is a middle school team. We were even at one tournament five of the eight alliance captains were middle school teams and 5 of the 8 middle school teams that were there finished ranked in the top 8 out of the total of 29 teams competing that day.

There have been a few times that 6842Z has not finished 1st in qualifications (while still being undefeated) but they seem to always be on the number one alliance. When they are picked by someone who finished higher than them, they are still usually the team that is in every match. Not bad for a middle school team.

To be clear, unlike @dbenderpt I am not affiliated with that team but I am an event partner and they seem to win the excellence award quite often competing against high school teams.