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The West Elementary School Tiger Bots are the winners of their division and the overall grand champions of the Mission to Mars Robotics Competition.

WES Tiger Bots triumph as grand champions

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs are garnering more recognition in the Franklin County and Russellville City School systems. One of the recent developments is an increase in robotics programs and their successes. West Elementary School’s robotics program just competed in its first competition – and won big.

Jan. 26 the WES Tiger Bots competed in the Mission to Mars Robotics Competition at the University of North Alabama and brought home two awards: first place in the kindergarten through second-grade division and Overall Grand Champions.

“It was definitely one of the proudest teacher moments in 14 years,” club sponsor Chasity Parker said.

Parker, Amy Hamilton and Rachel Seal sponsor and work with the team.

There are 20 students on the team, five of whom competed at UNA: Collins Odom, Weston Fugate, Dixie Ridge, Asher Poss and Drake Ergle. Right now the team is only composed of second graders, but Parker said she is hopeful it will expand to first graders and possibly kindergarteners next year.

For the competition, the Tiger Bots had to solve three puzzles in three hours. Each puzzle had different obstacles, and the students accrued points based on completed tasks.

“Those five students competing this weekend learned to never give up. Keep working. Keep trying. They learned to work together as a team, and the results were rewarding,” Parker said.

The students learned how to code and program the DASH robot, use metric measurements to command its movements and avoid and work around obstacles.

“It involves perseverance, problem solving, reasoning, metric measurement and collaboration,” Parker said.

The Tiger Bots will compete again at Russellville Elementary School Feb. 15.

“Russellville City Schools is built on the tradition of excellence, and we at West Elementary
believe we should lay a strong foundation for that idea,” said principal Deanna Hollimon. “Adding a robotics program to our programs of education is a step in the right direction for our students and their future.”