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DMES robotics team sails through state contest, heads to next round
Dobys Mill Elementary Schools robotics team G.R.I.T. includes (from left ) Jaden Phillips, Daniel Hastie, Auston Lee, Elaina Richmond, Colby Blizzard and Carey Quarles. - photo by Miciah Bennett

Doby’s Mill Elementary School’s (DMES) Great Robots In Training (G.R.I.T.) and Shrimp are going to the First LEGO World Festival in St. Louis, Mo., April 25-28.

G.R.I.T. won the overall competition at the First Lego State Competition in Columbia in February. Coaches at the state festival told DMES that it won by a “long shot all across the board,” said G.R.I.T. volunteer coach William Lee.

To get to Missouri, the robotics team is selling raffle tickets for a Bose iPod docking station to help raise money. The six members on G.R.I.T. have also sold doughnuts and will carhop at Sonic Thursday for tips and a percentage of the evening’s sales.

Since winning the state competition, G.R.I.T has rebuilt its robot four times. It is the tenth robot since the preliminary competition. At World, the group will go up against teams from across the United States and more than 40 other countries.  In addition to creating another robot, the team has added material to its informational skit. An event unique to the World Festival is an alliance round where four different teams must work together to clear a challenge mat using all four of their robots.

This is the fourth team from DMES to attend the World Festival. Only fifth-graders are permitted to compete on DMES’ robotics team, which means a new team is formed each year.

Ten-year-old Colby Blizzard said the state competition “was really fun.” He enjoyed the teamwork challenges and performing their skit, which tells viewers about the dangers of salmonella transmission.

Elaina Richmond, 11, said she liked exchanging the dog tags the team put together for buttons from other participating teams.

What factors are contributing to another year of robotics success at DMES?

 “Team chemistry and how well they work together is a big factor” Lee said. “but it’s something we aren’t able to gauge at the beginning of the season.”

Support is another factor. The team was “well-represented” at the state competition said Amanda Raper, G.R.I.T. coach and related arts teacher at DMES. Parents and school administrators had fliers, posters, pom-poms and cheered for the students throughout the competition.

“We definitely knew where our parents were in the stands,” Lee said. “They show a lot of support.”