(Liz Gray/Reporter) The Muscogee (Creek) Nation held its Junior Botball Challenge May 12 at the Exchange Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Liz Gray/Reporter

Local schools participate in robotics competition

TULSA, Oklahoma — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation held its Junior Botball Challenge May 12 at the Exchange Center in Tulsa.

The spring event had an estimated 135 teams for the Junior Botball Challenge and nine teams participating in the Botball invitational.

“We’re seeing kindergartners and fifth graders learning to code and C programming language with autonomous robots,” KISS Institute for Practical Robotics Carol Goodgame said.

The challenges were the students’ real competition as they problem-solved using their knowledge of math and technology.

But the students were not stranded if they ran into problems. Technical support was available to those needing to troubleshoot or a spare part.

The MCN Botball Invitational included teams from mostly rural areas within the jurisdiction such as Weleetka, Holdenville, Preston and Paden.

The invitational was a double elimination competition where the teams of middle school and high school students had to run two autonomous robots simultaneously to score as many points as possible.

The theme of this year’s competition was a date farm, with colored pompoms being used as dates.

“They are learning to pick dates off the tree, put them in the crates, stack the bins and all different kinds of things,” Goodgame said.

Scoring included how well the robots moved the pompoms around the board, receiving more points if the pompoms were placed in the zones of the same color.

One part of the challenge was moving a frisbee up a cog railway, similar to the salmon ladder seen on the game show ‘American Ninja Warrior.’

“At times they are lifting these frisbees more than three feet in the air with a robot that has to start out less than 12 inches tall,” Botball head judge Roger Clement said. “It’s a pretty impressive feat.”

The Botball program is a partnership between MCN and non-profit KISS Institute for Practical Robotics to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills.

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