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New Poplin Elementary robotics team already winning at state level

The Poplin Robotics Stench Bots team has done quite well statewide (considering this is its first year of existence), winning a second-place in the research category among 69 other teams. Seated, from left, are Alex Valdivia, 10, a fourth grader; Caidan McKinnie, 9, a fourth grader; Katelyn Spurlin, 10, a fifth grader; and Henry Morgan, 9, a fourth grader. Standing, from left, are, Heather Gasiecki, third grade teacher; Linda Torres, team mom; Jake Gomez, 10, a fifth grader; Isa Lucarelli, 10, a fifth grader; Ethan Como, 10, a fifth grader; Karlee Schmidt, 11, a fifth grader; Shelley Gordan, a teacher and coach, Jennie Taylor, a fifth grade teacher and coach.

A group of Poplin Elementary students have a real opportunity to greatly enhance their problem-solving skills thanks to a school robotics team.

Students worked in teams to design and build a robot. They also used a computer program that allowed their robots to complete specific tasks. The robots, built from Legos, are part of the First Lego League organization.

The team, called the Poplin Robotics Stench Bots, has done quite well statewide (considering this is its first year of existence), winning a second-place in the research category among 69 other teams.

"We were some of the youngest to compete," said Heather Gasiecki, a Poplin Elementary third grade teacher and team coach. "It was mostly middle school students competing."

The team, which had been preparing for competition since the spring of 2010, competed regionally in December and statewide on Jan. 29, 2011, in Greensboro.

Gasiecki brought the idea of the robotics team to Poplin Elementary after being introduced to a similar team at Sun Valley Middle School. "My daughter was on the Sun Valley Middle team last year and I loved it," she said. "Since UCPS is trying to be as global and technologically forward as possible, I felt like now would be a good time."

Gasiecki's hope is that the team's experiences will fuel an interest in science and technology for the participants. "This will open up horizons and allow students to understand that there is more to science than just looking into a microscope," she said.

Fifth grader Karlee Schmidt, 11, said she likes that solving the various problems makes her think outside the box. "It challenges my mind," she said. "It's a challenge to find the solutions to these problems. And I get to meet so many smart people in this school who I didn't know."

Team mom Linda Torres, who is there to support her 10-year-old grandson, Alex Valdivia, said she has been impressed by how much the activities have forced students to research solutions, thus stimulating their thinking skills.

"The robotics team can help them go out and look for answers to problems," Torres said. "It will help them to be problem solvers."

The next step for the Poplin Elementary robotics team will be to compete against other Union County Public School robotics’ teams at the March 19, 2011, competition at Weddington Middle School.
 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Feb 11, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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