But young scholars at Metro Charter Academy in Romulus, Mich., aren’t just learning about robots; they’re actually designing, building, and programming their very own creations.
The Blazin Bots Robotics Team, comprised mostly of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, recently competed in the Gibraltar Spring Showdown and brought home a special award.
Led by coach Heather Smith-Elliott, who is also an art teacher, and Kindergarten Teacher Madi Wojtkowski, the 15-person team put their skills to the test against 28 other teams during the all-day competition.
“Five different times they run their robot,” said Smith-Elliott. “They try to pick things up, move them, and put them down. There are lots of ways to get points and we try to get as many as we can.”
In addition to demonstrating their technical abilities, the teams also took part in an interview portion with judges.
"The judges ask about everything from how they built the robot to how they programmed it,” Wojtkowski said. “Also, questions about fundraising they've done and how they've brought awareness to robotics."
As part of the interview process, the judges watched an introduction video produced by two seventh-grade members of the team, Sean Johnson and Lawrence Jones Jr.
The video showed students working as a team, troubleshooting, and fine-tuning their creation nicknamed “Blue Heat” for the color of its wheels.
“These kids are really dedicated because they're coming to school Saturday mornings to work on their robot,” proudly stated Smith-Elliot.
At the end of the day, the team’s hard work paid off, as they showed the judges not only their mechanical skills but also their creative problem-solving abilities.
The judges were so impressed, they awarded the Blazin Bots a coveted "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Judges Award."
The award recognizes the students' dedication and innovative thinking.
The competition also taught students valuable lessons about teamwork as they helped their teammates as well as students from other schools.
“We had multiple teams come up to us within an hour of being there, asking to borrow items like an Allen wrench or scissors, even an extension cord,” said Wojtkowski. “Everybody's helping each other.”
Metro Charter Academy has a history of great teamwork and academic excellence, outperforming the local district for the past 13 years.
Congratulations to the members of the Blazin Bots Robotics Team! Who knows, one of these talented students could one day become the next big robotics engineer!
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Metro Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Romulus, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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