By Kitsey Burns Harrison
BOONVILLE — Elementary and middle school students from across the county participated last Thursday in the second annual Yadkin Bots tournament held at Starmount Middle School.
“We started Yadkin Bots because we wanted to bring a stem-type program to the elementary and middle schools. We thought this would accomplish our goal and be a lot of fun for the kids,” said Yadkin County School Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin. “We are thrilled with how it has grown. We started with 10 teams and grew it to 15 teams this year.”
Martin explained students use science, technology, engineering and math to construct and program their robots to perform tasks.
“They also learn to work together as a team to solve problems,” he said. “We are exposing our kids to something that kids in most school systems in the state don’t get to do. This is an experience that will serve these kids as they continue their education and eventually enter the workforce.”
Joe Kronner, owner of Must Innov8 and founder of Yadkin Bots, call the tournament “an amazing event.”
“I loved seeing the kids’ faces,” Kronner said. “To see them dancing and carrying on like they did was so much fun. When we were first looking at starting this program we were told the excitement inside the gym would make you think you were at the state basketball championship. And they were right. This event today was an absolute delight!”
A number of area businesses support the Yadkin Bots program including the Northwest Workforce Development Board, Unifi, Yadtel, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo, Dorsett Technologies, Austin Electrical Enclosures, Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce, SouthData, Reynolds Manufacturing Solutions, Zusuky Wilkins, Welborn Family Associates, Quality Steel Fabrication, TE Connectivity, Southern Fasteners, CW Electric Company, BB&T, Chick-fil-A, Alex’s Grill, Donald Pilcher and Lowes Foods.
County board of commissioners Chairman Kevin Austin, whose business Austin Enclosures is also one of the program sponsors, said he is amazed by the program and sees great benefits for the students who participate.
“Being a manufacturing owner in Yadkin County I can see the benefit of this robotics program for both the kids and the business community,” Austin said. “The kids have really blossomed this year, compared to the first year of the program. The excitement now is over the moon.”
The ForBOTS team from Forbush Elementary came away as the grand champion of the tournament. For the Core Values award which recognized the teamwork capabilities of the students, the #Gogreenorgohome team from Yadkinville Elementary came in first, with the Jonesville Blue team in second place and the West Yadkin Soaring Eagles in third.
The LegoPanthers team of Courtney Elementary came in first place in the Project Award category which recognized effective communication to solve a problem. Robo Cats of East Bend came in second and Yadkinville Stingers in third.
In the Robot Design category, the Ninja Falcons of Forbush Middle came in first place with the Mechanical Cougars of Fall Creek and the SMS Rams of Starmount Middle taking second and third place, respectively.
For Robot Performance, the ForBOTS came in first with the Robo Rams of Starmount Middle in second and Team Boonville of Boonville Elementary in third place.
For Rookie of the Year there was a tie between West Yadkin Fighting Eagles and the Jonesville Bluejays.
The Judges Award went to the West Yadkin Eagles.
“We had a fantastic event,” Austin said of the tournament. “It really showed off what the kids of this county are capable of and they did it all in a real short period of time with the help of some great coaches and mentors and I was just amazed by the end results.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.