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Legos and robots and competitions

Excitement filled the air at West Rowan Middle School Thursday, as students from 25 elementary and middle schools across the Rowan-Salisbury School System gathered for “Wizard of Oz” themed afternoon of competition, robotics and Legos.

“It’s exciting to be able to come this year,” said Tina Barkley, the coach of Erwin’s winning team, especially since they didn’t get to attend last year.

She said her students began meeting one day a week after school in November and learned the challenges in December.

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for since sixth grade,” said eighth-grader Madison Lovingood.

The teams from five middle schools were given four challenges to complete using robots, such as moving things or dropping things off, based on “The Wizard of Oz.

The students had to “interpret those challenges” and “program a robot to meet each challenge,” said Jessica Tucker, Millbridge’s Media Coordinator.

The students also had to change the shape of their robot by adding different attachments for each challenge.

The teams were judged on a points system to see how effectively they could complete the tasks.

Southeast Middle School brought their robotics club that meets two days a week after school.

Their coach, Terry Sippel, said the students “learn how to program with the software.” They also build the attachments for the robots.

Erwin’s team one took first place, Knox’s team took second and Southeast Middle School’s team took third in the middle school competition.

Elementary competition included students from the academically gifted classes from all 20 elementary schools.

Students were challenged to build a machine with at least one motorized, moveable part that would rescue the Cowardly Lion from the poppy field. Students were also required to include a display that explained their project.

The project required students to collaborate and build a robot that would help get the Cowardly Lion out of the poppy field.

Competition included a trifold board and a figure with at least one motorized, moveable part.

The Bostian Builders team had to do a “bit of brainstorming,” according to team member Parker Steele.

Since the team is actually a compilation of two teams, they had to find a way to “mish-mash” the two groups’ ideas, he said.

So, they decided to use three machines with a total of seven motors to complete their rescue mission: a tunnel digger called the “Poppy Pulverizer,” a helicopter called the “Lion Lifter” and a train by the name of “Lion Express.”

The team met a few setbacks along the way. One of their machines was dropped and had to be completely rebuilt. Another time, the Lion Express had to be modified because it wouldn’t move.

“It was a trouble-shooting thing,” said Ryan Rayfield.

The students also programmed their machines with the computer.

In the elementary school competition, Overton won the “Explosive Ideas Award,” Knollwood won the “Picasso Award,” Faith won the “Lil’ Einstein Award,” Woodleaf won the “Master Programmer Award,” Shive won the “Simply Awesome Machine Award” and Bostian won the “Amazing Movement Award.”

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