‘Shrimp' and G.R.I.T.s win state robotics championship, headed t - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

‘Shrimp' and G.R.I.T.s win state robotics championship, headed to nationals

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COLUMBIA (WIS) - A team of Midlands students is headed to the FIRST LEGO League national robotics competition next week after beating out more the 80 other teams for the spot at the state competition.

"[It took] hours upon hours of hard work," said William Lee, one of two team coaches for team of 5th graders at Doby's Mill Elementary.

"Our robot's name is ‘Shrimp'," said 5th grader Jayden Phillips who proudly wears his team G.R.I.T. (Great Robots in Training) t-shirt. "[Shrimp] has one ultra sonic sensor and uses echo location, like a bat, to see where it's at on the field."

Phillips is one of six 5th grade students who has been on the team since the beginning of this school year. Phillips and his other team members, Daniel Hastle, Elaina Richmond, Colby Blizzard, Auston Lee and Carey Quarles, were selected from a pool of applicants to have a spot on the Doby's Mill Robotics team.

 "One of the great things about Doby's Mill is that these kids come in as kindergartners, looking at these 5th graders and say, "I want to do that," said Lee.

While the students have two coaches, it's up to the kids to put together the robot and their LEGO mission field.  "They have to build all the pieces, all the mission models," said Amanda Raper, G.R.I.T. coach and Doby's Mill Elementary technology teacher.

Their hard work paid off when team G.R.I.T. won the state championship for the FIRST LEGO League Robotics competition back in February. This is the fourth state win for Doby's Mill whose robotics program started just seven years ago.  William Lee has coached all four state championship teams.

 "We try to make it fun," said Lee. "Because if the kids are having fun, sometimes they don't realize that they're learning."

They're learning, and now they're teaching others. In addition to building ‘Shrimp' and the mission field, the FIRST Lego League competition requires that students complete a research project. "This year the research portion was for the students to research issues with food safety," said Raper. "The students discovered through their research that there's salmonella in pet food."

The students put together a skit to explain their research findings. In addition to showcasing their robot, they'll use their skit at the national competition against teams from around the world.

Lee says the students are excited to meet other teams from Australia, China and Japan. "They may not understand their language, but there is a basic understanding when it comes to LEGOs."

From understanding LEGOs, to garnering the necessary math, engineering, speaking, and comprehensive skills, the students say there's one thing that stands out to them the most. "How important it is to be on a team," said team member, Colby Blizzard. "Because they're always there to back you up," added Blizzard.

Team G.R.I.T. and' Shrimp' will take off for the national competition in St. Louis, Missouri in less than two weeks. The trip will cost $16,000 according to team coaches. The students say they've held numerous team fund raisers to try and pay for their trip, but coaches say they still need close to $3,000. If you're interested in helping Team G.R.I.T get to the national competition, you can call Doby's Mill Elementary School at (803) 438-4055.

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