It may not have had robots destroying each other a la “Battlebots,” but Friday’s 3rd Annual Junior Robotics Challenge was no less exciting.
Inside the Life Ready Center gym, 16 teams of third through a few sixth graders from all of the Lawton Public School District and Bishop Elementary hummed with electricity. And not just that powering the dozens of small robots in the room.
Doris Biegler, Life Ready Center tech teacher and lead organizer for the event, said this year’s event is following a trend.
“Every year we’re getting better,” she said. “It’s a lot of work; a lot of people have worked on this nonstop.”
One of those tasked with setting up the event’s audio and video setup is LPS A/V tech David Dodson. He said this year’s setting at the Life Ready Center gym was ideal over the past years due to the space and air conditioning.
The event was a cap to Robotics Week activities that began Monday. Dodson said the multimedia components to the event made it seem special, kind of like the production of TV’s “Battlebots.”
“They really go at it,” he said before smiling about the grandiosity of the setting. “It’s nice, it’s all right.”
As a team sat at a desk with a green screen behind them while recording a podcast of the event, a large TV showed a backdrop of the event’s logo.
With a large table in the center of the room, large trophies and medals and ribbons awaited the top finishers in the day’s competition for four divisions: driving, coding, engineering and creativity.
Among those creative thinking elementary students were Freedom Elementary fourth-graders Grayson Wright and Tremaine Hayes. As Hayes ate potato chips, the two discussed driving strategies for the small robots put together, tested and mastered over the past weeks.
“I’ve been into it (robotics) awhile,” Wright said.
At a nearby table, Pat Henry fifth-graders Juan Rodriguez and Romero Penafor worked on a fix for a malfunctioning ‘bot. Classmate Kalmeron Lewis said after spending the past three months learning about robotics, it’s sparked her interests.
“When I’m older, I want to be an engineer,” she said.
At the end of a robot soccer match won by her last-minute goal from the control pad, Eisenhower Elementary fourth-grader Kaliana Niedo said this first year of working with robotics won’t be the last.
“I’m interested in doing it in the future,” she said.
Sparking an interest in learning and developing their minds through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles is the goal, according to Biegler. Well, that and to have fun. That’s the payoff.
“It’s a great thing but a lot of work,” she said. “But, as you can see, these kids are having a great time.”