Students, Start Your Robots!

Teacher working with two male students on the directions.

It’s a fast-paced, hands-on, learning day at Knox County Middle School as elementary and middle school robotics teams from across the county come together to prepare for the regional First Robotics League competition.

“We have 3 elementary teams and 3 middle school teams competing at First Lego League this year,” explained gifted and talented coordinator Jennifer Carey.  “We were not able to have lego robotics last year with social distancing and restrictions due to COVID-19. So our teams are eager to get this program going again.”

The schools participating, team names, and the number of students for this year include:

  • G.R. Hampton, known as the Hampton Bots, has five students.
  • Flat Lick Elementary, known as the Flat Lick Bots, has five students.
  • Central Elementary, known as the Robo Panthers, has five students.
  • Knox County Middle School has three teams,  Los Genios with six students, Mind Masters with five students, and Master Minds with six students.

Each season the innovation project for robots changes.  For this year, the project is based on the transportation of products.  The task reads, “everyone depends on the transportation of goods for their daily needs.  As more demands are placed on the transportation systems, we will continue to face challenges unless we find new ways, or improve existing ways, to transport products from place to place.  How can you improve the transportation of products?  Identify a specific problem within this theme that you want to solve.  Then, create or improve a piece of equipment, a technology, or a method of transportation to solve your specific problem.

Students are not only presented with a new challenging prompt, but they also have new equipment to learn in the process.

“This year the robot has changed from EV-3 system to spike prime. Berea was able to fund our teams with 1 spike prime kit per school that provided a coach,” explained Carey.   “With this new robot coding system, it has been new to all of our teams. Even those who have been experienced in the past.”

Students will have another day before the competition, scheduled for Saturday, December 11, to work together on their robot.

“Our teams participate in two district days,” said Carey.  “These days provide coding instruction, time for project research, allowing teams to work with schools across our district sharing ideas and compete as they would at region. Our middle school teams are able to mentor these elementary teams and work alongside them.”

“This is a building year and our students will have much more understanding for competition next year. We are excited to see how they will rank with others within our region. It is a great hands-on STEM challenge incorporating research, problem/solution, drama and teamwork skills.”