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TES Robotics team earns landmark first win

In a year of firsts for the Tharptown Elementary School robotics program, the school earned its first win in a robotics competition as the TES Little Wildbots won first place at the February 24 University of North Alabama Robotics Competition.

The event consisted of 23 teams, each having three to six members participating. Teams had to solve timed problems with robots they had constructed. The event required each team member to work together in working the robot through the course.

Former Russellville City Schools teacher Lee Brownell with the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative coordinated the competition.

The Little Wildbots won first place in the division of kindergarten through second grade. Tharptown teacher Brittany Pannell is the K-2nd grade sponsor, and Jessica Cantrell serves as the co-sponsor.

Students on the winning team included Sadie Odom, Audrey Kiel, Cayden Porter and Devin Veltman.

Franklin County superintendent of education Greg Hamilton was ecstatic to hear how well the students performed, particularly in their first-ever competition.

“I’m very proud of the Tharptown Elementary School robotics team. I’m so excited about the effort of our students,” Hamilton said. “This was a true team effort to get the robotics team started. I want to commend Kelby Daniel, Jake Ward, Brittany Pannell and Jessica Cantrell for all their hard work.”

Tharptown special education teacher Jake Ward helped start the program at Tharptown, and more than 60 kids took part in the program’s first year.

Students work with Dash robots, which perform simple tasks and turns through an app installed on iPads controlled by the students. Dash the Robot was the winner of the Creative Child 2017 Kid’s Product of the Year and 2017 Toy of the Year award.

The team members were selected by their sponsors based on several criteria including attendance at school and at robotics meetings, behavior and grades, and how well the students work in a team environment.

“This is truly a team event, not an individual event, so their abilities to work together are an important criteria,” Ward said.

In the third-fifth-grade division, Russellville Elementary School’s Steam Team 5 won second place, with Russellville Elementary’s Team 1 taking home third-place honors.

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