Pulaski County Public Schools entered the robotics arena this year, with a team at each of the five county elementary schools forming and beginning the work of learning what it takes to be competitive. In their first year of competition each school performed well, but two will now be advancing to the state level.
The FIRST LEGO League competition, held at Blacksburg High School Saturday, November 18, involved four different aspects. Each team is required to take part in Robot Build, Robot Game, an Innovation Project, and Core Values. Students create a display on a topic and are judged on how they present it, as well as the robotics portion of the event.
“So, their Robot Build is the robot itself and it helps them acquire points for the Robot Game,” Coach Asher Vaughn said. “On top of that is the Innovation Project where students were prompting to ‘increase engagement or participation of a hobby of your choice using art and technology.’ That is when we hosted our Innovation Night at Dublin so students could share their hobbies with the community directly, Critzer did dancing and fishing as their hobbies. For Core Values, the theme is ‘gracious professionalism,’ being a professional is who kind, with many other attributes.”
The event was a full day of competition, which involved practice robotics rounds and judges evaluating the displays. When the dust had all settled, the team from Critizer Elementary School earned a shot at the State Level of competition.
Students from Critzer who were involved in the competition include Wyatt Isom, Gavin Reece, Everly Dawson, and Liam McGregor. Two students, Kayden Barker and Emma McGuire, have been involved with the Critzer project but couldn’t attend Saturday. They may be able to attend at the State Competition.
Dublin Elementary School finished as a runner-up, but Monday Mr. Vaughn was notified that the other team in their group will be unable to attend the State Competition, giving Dublin Elementary the chance to compete at the next level as well.
Students from Dublin Elementary who were at the competition Saturday include Italy Mullins, Raegan Dean, and Keegan Epperly. Two students who couldn’t make it for DES Saturday but may be at the State meet are Arron Biggs and Jaxon Lawrence.
DES students did their innovation project on space, especially constellations, and had their innovation night at DES to share their research and advertise the DC Wysor Observatory, located on the campus of DES.
“I think we had several teams that were right on the edge of qualifying for the State Level,” Mr. Vaughn said. “Snowville Elementary was really close, but our goal next year is for everyone to bring home some hardware. We were competing against programs that have been established for several years, so to see our students go out and perform like they did was great. We're very pleased with our first competition, and would like to thank everyone who has helped make the teams possible. The donors and the parents have helped make this a very positive experience for all of our students. Next year, we're hoping that many of these current fifth graders can help us establish a team at Pulaski County Middle School.”
The State Competition it is set for December 9, at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. To see more photos from the event, see this GALLERY on our PCPS Facebook page.