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Robots Invade School

On Dec. 7 and 8, the best robotics teams from each public school in Alachua County, Fla., as well as a few out-of-town teams, met to compete in the 2016-17 District Robotics Showdown.

More than 350 students in total took part, competing in the gym at Gainesville’s Lincoln Middle School.

For the last several months, students have been building these robots. They’ve been busy programming and tweaking their designs, as well as competing in their own schools to get to district finals.

The program, sponsored by Infinite Energy, started last year as part of the school board’s STEAM initiative. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. Infinite Energy has pledged $10,000 a year to the program for five years as part of its corporate citizenship effort. The company also sends volunteers.

“It was cool seeing how focused and enthusiastic those kids were with their projects,” said Infinite Energy’s Mark S., a volunteer at the first day’s event. “I wish we’d have had this type of program when I was a kid.”

At the Dec. 7 kickoff event, more than 150 elementary school students competed. Two robots were placed on opposite ends of a table where students used their machines to pick up objects and place them in scoring boxes. The challenge (see final results here) also included attempting to balance both robots, wheels and all, on a center platform that pivoted up and down.

“The kids learned a lot about how to put technology to use with all of this,” Mark said. “But more than that, you could see they’re also learning how to work together to hammer out problems. I think that’s the real benefit from all this. That’s something that can make the world a better place.”

Infinite Energy is a proud supporter of this program. Thank you for letting us take part.

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