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Mississippi students move on to national robotics competition

Students from across Mississippi competed in the VEX Robotics State Championship held March 1-2 at USM. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

Hundreds of students from across Mississippi showed off their innovative skills during the VEX Robotics State Championship held March 1-2 at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Payne Center on the Hattiesburg campus. This marked the second straight year that USM hosted the event.

The competition included elementary, middle and high school students representing 110 robotics teams from approximately 50 Mississippi schools in an educational competitive robotics program. The competition focused on teamwork, communication, and keeping students engaged in hands-on technology challenges that build their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“This year’s state championship was one for the books,” said Jennifer Richardson, District Robotics Coordinator for Madison County Schools and the State Championship Coordinator. “The competition was fierce, but the teams were also able to enjoy some of the great things that USM has to offer during the vendor fair and opening ceremonies when Seymour and the Pride’s drumline made an appearance. Although every team may not have won, they will have fond memories of this event for years to come.”

The VEX Robotics program includes three different levels of competition. On last Friday’s opening day of the championship, VRC teams from the middle and high schools displayed their robotic skills. On Saturday’s second day, VEX IQ teams from the elementary and middle schools competed. Each group is responsible for designing, building, programming, and driving their robot to meet the requirements of the current year’s challenge.

“It’s an absolute joy to watch parents, grandparents, coaches, and teachers all help shape young scientific minds. These kids and what they’ve accomplished is amazing! I’m thrilled to help USM host these young scholars,” said Dr. Julie Cwikla, Director of Creativity & Innovation in STEM at USM.

Winning teams from the state championship will now advance to the 2019 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky where more than 1,400 of the best VEX competitions teams from around the globe will compete in April.

Winning teams included:

VEX IQ Elementary

Amaze Award – Petal Upper Elementary School

Build Award – New Hope Elementary School

Create Award – Hub City Fins

Design Award – Oak Grove Lower Elementary School

Energy Award – OG Robotics Ind.

Excellence Award – OG Robotics Ind.

Teamwork Champion Award – West Elementary School; Mannsdale Upper Elementary School

Teamwork 2nd Place Award – Petal Upper Elementary School; OG Robotics Ind.

Robot Skills Champion Award – Mannsdale Upper Elementary School

STEM Research Project Award – Biloxi Upper Elementary School

Volunteer of the Year – Alex Howard

Teacher of the Year – Sarah Noble

VEX IQ Middle School

Design Award – Bayou View Middle School

Excellence Award – Pass Christian Middle School

Teamwork Champion Award – Richton School District; Bayou View Middle School

Robot Skills Champion Award – Richton School District

STEM Research Project Award – Pass Christian Middle School

Volunteer of the Year – Kade Reich

Teacher of the Year – Shawn White

VRC Middle School

Excellence Award – Germantown Middle School

Tournament Champions – New Hope Middle School; Madison Middle School

Design Award – Madison Middle School

Volunteer of the Year – Julie Jackson

Tournament Finalists – Bayou View Middle School; Bayou Middle School; Germantown Middle School

Robot Skills Champion – Germantown Middle School

Teacher of the Year – Evan Craft

VRC High School

Excellence Award – Ridgeland High School

Tournament Champions – Ridgeland High School; Ridgeland High School

Design Award – Ridgeland High School

Volunteer of the Year – Hanmi Nguyen

Tournament Finalists – Hancock High School; Richton School District

Robot Skills Challenge – Madison Career & Technical Center

Teacher of the Year – Kelly Soule

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