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Teams tested their STEM skills with peers from around the world at the world’s largest robotics event presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation April 29 – May 2

May, 2018 – Robotics teams from Mansfield Elementary School, Liberty Middle School, and Newton County Theme School are back from their showing at the 2018 VEX IQ World Championship sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation in Louisville, Ky., April 29 – May 2.  Mansfield and NCTS each had one team attend, while two Liberty teams made it to the World’s stage.  Mansfield’s team, along with one of the teams from Liberty qualified for the event through their skills performances throughout the season. Liberty’s second team qualified with their runner-up performance at the Georgia State Championship and the NCTS team was invited as a result of their Georgia State Championship Judge’s Award.

The VEX IQ World Championship attracted more than 800 elementary and middle school robotics teams with students from nearly 40 countries representing six different continents.  This year’s game, Ringmaster, challenged students to design and build a robot that could successfully pick up different color rings and score them on posts arranged across the competition field.  Engineering design, problem solving, teamwork, and programming are cornerstones of the competition.

“The World Championships were amazing,” said Whitney Strickland, one of the coaches from Mansfield. “During one match, our students were paired with a team from China and to see them interact and plan together was really special!”

The VEX robotics program has grown a great deal in Newton County over the last several years and is home to 61 elementary and middle school teams.  “All of our elementary and middle schools have multiple VEX IQ teams,” said Tim Schmitt, Director of CTAE and Workforce Innovation for Newton County Schools.  “We started four years ago with just a handful of middle school teams and now have a higher concentration of teams than any other county in Georgia.”  In addition to elementary and middle school programs, NCSS high schools are also involved with VEX Robotics with teams at Alcovy, Eastside, and NCCA.   

“VEX students display their technology and engineering knowledge, expand their communication and teamwork skills, and show us how enjoyable hands-on learning can be through robotics,” said Dan Mantz, CEO of the REC Foundation. “Students joining us at the VEX Robotics World Championship should be especially proud of their accomplishments this season.”

In addition to nearly three days of intense competition, the 2018-19 VEX IQ game was revealed during the world championships.  According to Liberty’s robotics coach, Raymont Burke, “students are already planning for next year’s game.  The game reveal at World’s is really spectacular and gets the teams pumped and ready for the next season.”

All four Newton County teams finished near the middle of each of their divisions.  “The competition level is intense,” said NCTS coach Brandy Donahue.  “Our teams are getting better each year and our trips to World’s has motivated them to continue to grow.”  This was the Theme School’s third trip to the World Championships and the second for Liberty.  Mansfield represented Newton County as the first elementary team from the school system to participate. The World Qualifying teams were made up of:  MFES – Levi Adams, Grayden Mayhue, Ean Pollard, Bryson Strickland; NCTS – Katelin Wilber, Grace Watts, Katie Oakley, Dhakiya Knights, Caleb Williams, Gordon Everett, Owen Lane, and Nolan McCamy; LIMS – Dylan Smalls, Jayden Williams, Adrian Zac-Williams, Aisha Merritt, Jaylen Alexander, Jamison Graves, Satrick Clark, Elijah White, Brianna Gross.  Coaches include: Karen Piper, Bridget Nalls, Whitney Strickland (MFES); Brandy Donahue, Pamela Consuegra (NCTS); and Raymont Burke (LIMS).

“We know that critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration are critical skills students need in the college classrooms and workplaces of the future,” said Tim Schmitt, CTAE Director for Newton County Schools.  “Our robotics efforts are one way that we are providing opportunities for students to gain those skills.  The excitement level and interest our students have for STEM-related activities is contagious.  The more we expose students to, the more it grows.”