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The Russellville Elementary third- through fifth-grade robotics team is the first-place champion of its division in the Mission to Mars competition.

RES robotics wins first

Russellville City Schools was well represented at the University of North Alabama’s Mission to Mars robotics competition Jan. 26. The West Elementary School kindergarten through second-grade team was the grand champion, and the Russellville Elementary School third- through fifth-grade grade team won first place in its division.

“They have worked all year to achieve this honor,” said RES Principal Kristie Ezzell.

This is the second year for RES’ robotics team, and the Russellville students beat out 26 other teams to win their division. Robotics program sponsor Carol Raney said last year the team placed third, so this marked a year of great progress for RES.

“We learned what worked well, we practiced more, and we enforced a more rigorous rubric when creating the team,” Raney said.

To be accepted into the RES team, each student was evaluated based on his or her behavior, problem-solving skills, coding skills, absences and ability to work well in a group. If they qualified, their parents had to sign an agreement for them to join and be able to attend competitions. There are 21 students in the program this year, divided into five teams of third- through fifth-graders.

“We tried to keep it small to keep the price down and because we wanted to be able to work with each group equally,” Raney said.

Raney said the students have learned to problem solve on their own and develop their skills, which she said speaks volumes about how accomplished they are.

“It really helped them at the competition because they were able to work together and figure things out without our help,” she said.

Each team had a team leader that Raney said they selected ahead of time based on the student’s natural leadership abilities. “Our team leaders did an excellent job, and we’re really proud of all of the students,” she said.

RES hosted a robotics competition Feb. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with some of the RES robotics students in attendance to help run the event.

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