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Columbia robotics teams recognized at district, state

Project-based research, automation and teamwork were among the skills mastered by robotics teams at Columbia Elementary School.

Astro Botz members, from left, are Emma Foust, Diego Candia, Michael Prater, Matthew Hemken and Kylee Henrie (not pictured, Anshul Moondra). (Contributed)

Columbia sponsors fifth- and sixth-graders on the Astro Botz and Columbia Mini Figs teams. Sci-Quest sponsors the third Columbia team, Lighting Brixx.

Astro Botz won the second-place trophy for teamwork at the Alabama First LEGO League State Championship on Jan. 12 at Grissom High School. Members are Emma Foust, Matthew Hemken, Kylee Henrie, Noah Huinker, Diego Candia and Anshul Moondra.

Dr. Mike Foust and Amy Hemken coach the Astro Botz.

Competing at the district level, the Columbia Mini Figs roster includes Thomas Daugherty, Ward Lenoir, Connor Black, Gus Larson and Ethan O’Quin. James O’Quin is parent coach.

Columbia fourth-grade teacher Kelly Johnson sponsors both these teams.

Also at the state tourney, Lighting Brixx earned second place for research presentation. All fourth-graders, team members are Ethan Horne, Liam Kilpatrick, Kyle Bratt and Owen Racelis. Parent coach is Jennie Horne.

Categories in the robotics competition were robot design, core values, research project and robot performance.

Astro Botz’ robot, Retriever, consisted of two large motorcycle wheels and two small, plastic wheel guides, Coach Foust said. Retriever has arms that can throw balls and capture objects off a table. Retriever also has a built-in stand that can push items.

“The kids spent over 50 hours working on the robot and project between September and January,” Foust said. With the research project, students designed an “automated pill box (with) visual and audible alarms for up to four doses per day.”

Teamwork was a major ‘lesson learned,’ Foust said. “Teamwork is a valuable skill to have even in the classroom as the kids work to solve problems. They learned to respect other’s opinions.”

“Solving problems as a team will benefit the students as they progress through their educational endeavors and will be a lifelong skill,” Foust said.

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