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story.lead_photo.caption RACHEL DICKERSON/MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Judges from Walmart look at a robot presented by a third-grade team from Anderson Elementary School during the third annual Robot Fest at McDonald County High School.

One hundred teams from across the county gathered at McDonald County High School on Dec. 6 to compete in the third annual Robot Fest.

Teams took their robots from one station to the next where they were interviewed about their robots, asked to show off what their robots could do and taken through a blind challenge in which their robots had to perform specific tasks.

Hannah Drake, a fourth-grade science teacher from Noel Elementary School, said there were 25 fourth-graders from Noel and 42 total students from the school.

"We've been setting aside extra time for those who are interested in robotics," she said. "Those in fourth grade who were not signed up for Robot Fest have been preparing for Code-a-Palooza in January and thinking about why coding is important even for us as fourth-graders. It's a life skill for kids these days. A lot of kids are into Fortnite, a free online game. Using coding skills, you can create your own game."

"It's very exciting," Drake said of Robot Fest. "This is my first year of teaching, ever. To see how enthusiastic these kids are is very exciting."

Hannah Granger, a second-grade teacher from Noel Primary School, said her students have been practicing with their robot since about September. She said the students were in her enrichment group and they had been working on coding, so the principal of the school asked if they would be interested in going to Robot Fest.

"They did a good job. I think they were a little disappointed he didn't do quite what he did at school," she said.

"More and more we're going to start going to (coding) for careers, so the exposure is good," she said of the event. "It's something they'll get to keep working on."

Assistant Superintendent Angie Brewer was among those organizing the event. She said there were 49 teams in grades kindergarten through fourth and 51 teams in grades fifth through eighth. Teams came from all across the county, she said.

Judges were from Walmart and district staff, as well as a high school student from the Neosho robotics team.

"Their robot has to do a series of challenges -- go up a ramp, pick up a bottle. They're tested on speed. They're tested on the 'it' factor. Is it cool? Is it something Walmart would want to market?" Brewer said.

Students were also interviewed on whether they designed the robot themselves without a lot of adult help, she said.

Willie Howard of Jane, a teacher at Noel Elementary and parent of Jada Howard, 10, was also in the crowd.

"I think it's a good experience for (students)," he said of Robot Fest. "They learn to build it on their own. They have to put the work in to code it, to make it maneuver and move. They work really hard."

General News on 12/13/2018

Print Headline: Robot Fest Attracts 100 Teams

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