McKinley robotics team in state competition

XENIA — With a strong performance at the district competition, the robotics team from McKinley Elementary has advanced to the state competition.

Appropriately named “X Marks the Bot,” the team of fourth and fifth grade students competed against 35 other teams from southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky with students as old as ninth grade.

“Our team has worked really hard on this year’s challenge,” said robotics coach Tim Carey, who is also a third grade math teacher at McKinley. “Not only did our students give a strong presentation during judging, but they performed well on the table competition, scoring only 45 points behind last year’s state champions.”

FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics competitions require teams to solve a new programming challenge every year, as well as research a problem in their community and present their innovative solution to a panel of judges. This same panel also judges the team’s robot design and programming, assigning points for both content and the ability to work together and present as a team.

For the research portion, “X Marks the Bot” tackled the need the students see for inclusive parks and a community center in Xenia. With the help of a local architect, the team brought blueprints to showcase their plans and also impressed the judges with their simple yet efficient robot design and sophisticated programming.

The second phase of competition involves head-to-head matches against other teams where each is awarded points for completing challenges that show the effectiveness of their robot’s design and programming. The team scored 380 points in the robot game, coming in ninth place in the scoring.

The Ohio state championship will be held Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 1-2 at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

Team members are fourth graders Caden Vandergriff, Easton Butler, Trai Bullock, and Zade Rodin, and fifth graders Kyla Ashworth, Jillian Dameron, Violet Black, and Isaiah Musgrove.

“X Marks the Bot” is also coached by parent volunteer Bethanie Musgrove.