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Kilby Elementary School's robotics team headed to world championship

Kilby Elementary School Robotics

An Alabama elementary school is taking their talent to the international stage. Kilby Elementary School is sending three robotics teams to the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas.

Kilby Elementary School
Kilby Elementary School Robotics
Kilby Elementary School

These teams were selected out of schools competing at the Alabama State Robotics Competition held at Auburn University.

Dr. Eric Kirkman is the director of the Kilby Laboratory School. He said the Kilby teams went through many levels of competition to get where they are today.

Kilby Elementary School Robotics

“The teams that qualified for the world’s competition actually started at the regional level. The regional competitions qualify you for state," explained Dr. Kirkman. "The kids basically have to design a robot. Our teams were able to demonstrate enough driving skills and teamwork skills to qualify for the world's competition.”

Kilby Elementary School Robotics

The competition measures students' abilities to design and drive robots through several challenges. Each completed challenge rewards students with points. The teams with the most points at the end of the competition are selected to move forward.

Dr. Kirkman said students who compete in robotics competitions learn skills beyond just designing robots.

“It teaches several things. It teaches organization. They have to take notes where they troubleshoot, where they program, where they make changes. Writing skills, of course, with that keeping of the notebook. They definitely learn teamwork," he said. "They’re learning social skills that come with team building. Just from an engineering standpoint, they learn some basics of physics.”

This will be Kilby Elementary School's Robotics Club's first showing at the VEX Robotics World Competition. The competition will feature teams from across America, as well as from other countries.

“This is history making. This is year five for our robotics programs. This was our second showing at state and our first opportunity to be invited to the world competition,” Dr. Kirkman said. “We’re really proud of the fact that we have eight robotics teams at Kilby. Four of the teams qualified for state, three of them received bids to worlds.”

Kilby Elementary School is located in the University of North Alabama in Florence. It offers the robotics program to grades three through six.

Dr. Kirkman says robotics teaches principles of teamwork just like any other sport.

“Some of these kids may not play basketball or football or soccer. Robotics is their sport. You can hear cheering and clapping for each other when they’re driving their robots and their scoring points in the challenge," he said. "I think that’s one of the things that draws a lot of the kids to want to be part of the robotics... is just the feeling of being on a team.”

The championship will be held in Dallas, Texas from May 2-4.

Luke Pollock preferred the weather channel to children's programming since the age of two. He started at the University of Alabama in 2022 and began at Alabama Public Radio the following year as an intern. Luke has a passion for writing and interviewing, and he likes to know how money works. He’s majoring in economics.
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