VEX Robotics Returns with Fierce Competition


Projectiles whizzed through the air as robots took aim at this year’s VEX Robotics Tournament. Held at The ASIJ Theater on November 13-14, the event saw 24 teams from around the world battle it out. Played in alliance with another team on a square field, the object of the game was to score the maximum amount of points by firing balls into the goal, with an additional 50 points available to any robot that could finish by picking up its teammate. Competition was fierce, especially during Saturday’s elimination rounds.

Many teams returned to take part again this year. Schools represented included Tianjing International School, Thai Chinese International School (Bangkok), Chadwick International (Incheon), Kinnick High School, KAIS International School, Foshan Nanhai Yanbu Middle School and Christian Academy Japan. Imran Shaikh and Richard Hall from Tathva International School brought their students to observe the competition and also participated as judges. Lisa de Pierres and Tony Fox from AOBA and Sean Headrick from Tianjin International School also assisted with judging and refereeing. Miller J Roberts III, Vice President of the REC Foundation, which runs VEX Robotics World Championship, also stopped by the tournament to observe. Roberts is responsible for the REC Foundation’s day-to-day administrative operations.

ASIJ’s Ninjabotics teams faced stiff competition from the visiting robots and the tournament champion was an alliance of the three teams from Foshan Nanhai Yanbu Middle School. Foshan also won the Programming Skills and Robot Skills Awards based on their consistent high scoring over the two days. Team 82M from Tianjin International School won the excellence award. ASIJ’s 901A team took the Amaze Award, 901B the Build Award, 901Y the Design Award, 901M the Judges Award and 901A the Sportsmanship Award. Chadwick International School from South Korea won the Create Award and Christian Academy in Japan received the Innovate Award for their robot design.

The competition was streamed live on ASIJ TV, allowing supporters overseas to follow their team’s progress. Four students provided multi-camera coverage of all the action throughout the day under the direction of Tai Dirkse. The event is also archived, so if you want to see our robots in action, head to

Thank you to all of the National Honor Society students who supported the event. They worked hard resetting the two competition fields between each match, a task made trickier this year with the need to balance balls in a pyramid. Thanks also to Karyn Watt (HS Science Teacher) and Kevin Randell (HS Science Teacher) for supporting our robotics teams and organizing the event, high school teacher David Neale for emceeing and the many other faculty and staff who helped with judging, refereeing, transportation, hospitality and event production. (Matt Wilce, Director of Communications)

Third Grade Pirates Set Sail

Avast! Off the starboard bow, there be third graders! Third grade has a tradition of using PACT days for design and fabrication challenges, and in honor of the upcoming International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we chose a pirate theme for our initial challenge: build a workable ship that can carry as much pirate treasure as possible.

Everyone on a pirate ship needs to work together, and the focus of our design challenge was on collaboration. Crew members had to be ready to pitch their individual ideas, listen to other ideas and decide, as a group, which idea to pursue. They then had to decide how to divide and share the work so that each member was contributing to building the ship.

Once the testing started, crews had to put their heads together to analyze what worked well and make plans for what could be improved. Some teams found success from the get-go and plotted a course to make improvements so that their ships could carry even more plundered booty. Others used the prototyping cycle to fix problems that sent their initial constructions to the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker.

It was jolly good fun to dress and act like pirates. The collaborative and design skills these students worked on will be built upon for the rest of the year. Arrrr! (Timothy Bernhardt, ES Teacher)

Can We Teach Empathy?

Every year, many of our faculty pursue professional learning experiences during summer break, in addition to their regular Professional and Collaborative Time (PACT) discussions. This year, ES Associate Principal Genta Branstetter and ES Teachers Matt Kish, Sarah Bernherdt, Manon Harrison and Melissa Boks attended Continue reading

Welcome to the Creative Arts Design Center


Summer break is over and students and faculty are settling into a new school year. On the Chofu campus we were welcomed back by a new sight. What was once a hole in the ground, earlier this year, is now a state-of-the-art center for art, music and design.

The Creative Arts Design Center (CADC) officially opened on August 24, with a dedication ceremony. Architect Paul Tange (view website)—whose daughter Aya graduated in 2012—Shigeto Ozawa, president of Koshin Contracting Corporation and Head of School Ed Ladd conducted the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Following the ribbon cutting, guests moved into the Bender Plaza, named for former Elementary School Principal Dan Bender, on the second floor of the building. Tange spoke about his design process, which considered the multiple needs of the school and the impact the new structure would have on the surrounding neighborhood. He noted that some of his original ideas for the project came to be modified over time as the situation and requirements evolved—mirroring the design process that students will explore in the CADC’s design labs. Tange’s previous work includes our High School Library, the school’s facade and athletics building. Presentations from the site manager and speeches from Ozawa and the Head of School followed, before a traditional hand clapping ritual, which marked the end of proceedings.

The Creative Arts Design Center has bright, open spaces that include collaborative areas and tools that will nurture inquisitive students. High ceilings and large windows exemplify the values ASIJ places on learning—enabling bright minds to grow and explore. The new building includes two art rooms, two music rooms, a new multi-purpose room, five design technology labs, a robotics lab, a strings room, the Japan Center, an IT center and professional learning suite. Each space is designed for flexibility, allowing for movement and adaptation for a range of uses, in addition to their primary functions.

If you would like to learn more about the new Creative Arts Design Center, continue to check back as we introduce classrooms and features in the following weeks.