Above, from left, Dylan Shragg, Haley Brooks and Sadie Roberts, members of Team Octopi, are headed to the VEX World Championship.

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Vincent Rimparsurat captains Bladed Pinions, a winner of a VEX Championship contest

With names like the Alpha Atoms, Bladed Pinions and Octopi, it figures that the robotics teams at the Science Academy STEM Magnet are serious about their craft.

That competitive spirit – along with their engineering and programming skills – have propelled the student teams into the spotlight, where they will face off against like-minded kids from around the world.

This weekend, Ian Chen and Grace Ma, also known as the Alpha Atoms, will be competing at the VEX National Championship in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

And later this month, Vincent Rimparsurat – the Bladed Pinion himself – and the three-member Octopi will head to Louisville, Ky., to vie for the title of VEX Worlds Champion.

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Ian Chen and Grace Ma are competing this weekend in the VEX National Championship.

“We have worked so hard all season to obtain our goal,” says Haley Brooks, who, with Dylan Shragg and Sadie Roberts, makes up Team Octopi.

During VEX tournaments, teams of students design, build and program a driver-controlled robot that competes against other teams or the clock, amassing points by hurling cubes and stars over a barrier.

Joining the Alpha Atoms at the national contest will be three teams from the District’s Irving Middle School, a math, music and engineering magnet. Three other L.A. Unified schools – Basset Elementary, Mulholland Middle School and Foshay Learning Academy – will be competing in their individual categories at the VEX Worlds.

Both Octopi and Bladed Pinions took home trophies in the California’s VEX Championship, including the Excellence Award won by Octopi for its all-around excellence and their contribution to the community. The team founded a robotics program for special-education students at neighboring Millikan Middle School, raising money to buy seven VEX IQ kits and teaching the youngsters how to build, program and drive the robots.

“Their hard work and determination is representative of the drive for rigorous and relevant STEM education in L.A. Unified,” said Carlos Lauchu, principal of the STEM Academy. “These kids are our future – and it looks like it’s in good hands.”