Hartselle Intermediate students go robotic

Special to the Enquirer

Students in Hartselle Intermediate School’s STEM elective have been preparing for robotics competitions this year by designing, building, programming and learning to drive VEX IQ robots.

Four teams of five students have competed in several competitions this school year. Of those four teams, two have qualified for the state competition, which will be held Feb. 19 at Auburn University.

Tiger Team 1 is made up of Charlie Sparkman, Joey Cataline, Evan Gilliand, Braxton Gillespie and Bodie Goss; Tiger Team 2 includes Graham Cottingham, Will Rabb, Brennan Swafford, McKenzie Edwards and Tavaria Edwards. Reid Collins, Braydn Whitlock, Claire Harper, Zackrey Whaley and Elaine Willis are on Tiger Team 3, and Miller Rab, Fisher Nix, Lucas Woodall, Megan Beason and Emma Barren make up Tiger Team 4.

Tiger Teams 1 and 2 competed in the Aero IQ Challenge Nov. 13. Both teams qualified for the finals, but Team 1 walked away in first place with the Teamwork Champion Award, earning them a spot at the state elementary competition. Teamwork challenges pair teams from different schools to collaborate and compete together to earn points.

“The fields are designed to challenge your robot to gather as many balls as possible and push them in an area as a scoring option,” Charlie Sparkman said. “You can also throw the balls into a cube and hang the robot for additional points. Our goal at state is to improve by enlarging our bots to grab more balls and perfect our Engineering notebook. These areas will increase our team’s overall score.”

Tiger Teams 3 and 4 competed in the Cutting It Close IQ event Jan. 29. Once again, both Tiger Teams qualified for the finals.

Tiger Team 3 earned two awards at this event: the Middle School Excellence Award, which compiles their score for teamwork driving, individual skills driving, programming, team interviews and design awards, and which qualified them to compete in the middle school state competition, as well as the Robot Skills Champion Award for their first-place finish in skills driving and programming.

“I enjoy building the bots and navigating/driving the robot in the competitions,” said Braydn Whitlock, “but we have to practice a lot and prepare with our team. In the competitions, we are scored on skills and teamwork. I’m grateful for Mrs. Mozley (who) pushes us and challenges us to problem solve.”

“Robotics pushes me to be creative and strategize with my peers and other school teams. I hope to go into the field of engineering one day,” Reid Collins added.

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