As soon as the student referees counted down to “go” the cheers started from around the battle square taped off in the classroom. The two robots advanced on each other from opposite corners until they met head on. Sometimes the battle ended quickly with one easily pushing the other back and out of the competition field. Some robots flipped over and were swept out. Other battles ended in a stalemate with neither robot able to gain enough advantage to move the other out of the way.
The tournament continued round after round with losers moving to the lower bracket for second chances and winners advancing. In one class, it came down to robots named Patrick the Green Machine, Stocking Stuffer and The Zombie Killer.
Designed and built by Logan Keizer and Audrey Kenyon, Patrick the Green Machine eventually destroyed all challengers and was crowned the class champion.
“I think it’s heavier and more powerful than some of the others,” said Keizer, who worked with his teammate to build the robot in about a week.
Elijah Hipple and Carter Porter said their robot Stocking Stuffer just needed a few adjustments to make it better. “The ramp on the front needed to be redone because it was too long and kept getting caught on the carpet,” said Hipple.
Hipple said he learned a lot from building and testing his robot. “You had to learn how to code it so it would compete. We just tried different things when we built it,” he said. “The battles are fun.”
The Battle of the Bots contest is a fun, challenging competition for teams at the end of the class. The goal is to build a robot able to push, flip or destroy all others out of the competition ring.
The robotics class, taught by Gail Evans, is one of many exploratory classes offered at the middle school. Students use Lego Mindstormer kits and a software program to program the robots to complete certain tasks. At the eighth-grade level goals are to advance in design, build and programming skills.
The course also offers students a chance to understand how robotics are used in many different fields. Throughout the class, students work to design, build and program robots, test them, and troubleshoot to make improvements as needed.