Return to Headlines

Four Schools Receive State Robotics Initiative Grant - 2/17

Robotics Teams members

Pictured participants are, front row, left to right, Ben VanWagner, Jadyn Fields, Logan Snyder, Faith Balda, Piotr Churma, Aislin Schaefer-Murray, Ella Keane, Bella Muzzapulo, Logan Soohey, Brody Mehling, Keegan Feeley and Owen Lyons. Middle row, Jackson Elem. Teachers Samantha Bailey and Amanda Fronczak; Wolfgang Lutterman, Logan Booth, Brody Sivadon, Cameron Asbell, Olivia Muzzalupo, Alex Dumortier, Devon Thomas, Sophia Rodriquez, Adalicia Aures, Turner Enderle, and Liberty Elem. teacher Justin Martinson. Back row, Liberty Intermediate teachers Troy Young, Phylicia Barth, Kellie Cahillane and Sue Gore; Kelsey Mason, Bryanna Schneider, Ava Bank, Lila Miller, Chloe Link, Aleksa Sorgic, Ava Casselman, Ethan Soblotne, Jack Richardson, Claire Vrahoretis, Caden Koedyker and Liberty Elem. teacher David Mueller.


Four Duneland Schools applied for and were awarded a robotics start-up grant from the Tech Point Foundation for Youth for the State Robotics Initiative. Those schools awarded were Jackson, Liberty and Yost Elementary Schools; and Liberty Intermediate School.

The objective of the Robotics Initiative was to provide a hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning experience to every Indiana elementary school by utilizing an economical, entry level robotics platform, for students both in and out of the classroom.

VEX IQ is a robotics platform, which transforms STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning for young students. Participants snap together VEX IQ parts and build a simple, yet powerful robot to explore open-ended challenges, which are designed to enhance their STEM skills. Teams drive their robots in 60-second Teamwork Challenge matches and test their skills individually during two optional 60-second Robot and Programming Challenges.

Each school participating formed after school student teams to participate in this learning opportunity for grades 1-5.  Teams can participate in local and regional competitions in Indiana from October through February followed by the Indiana state competition in either February or March. The world championship is in April in Louisville, KY.

Liberty Intermediate School (LIS) was the first of the Duneland Schools to participate in a competition at Portage, Indiana. “Being our first competition, the students quickly learned through collaboration with their alliances that they could score more points working together. Students also discovered the variation in design of the Clawbot. So, observation of other teams encouraged new ideas for our own Clawbots,” said teacher Sue Gore. LIS entered two teams, one that placed 12th and the other 27th out of 31 teams at the Portage competition. 

The object of the competition is to maneuver the Clawbot on the playing field to knock down and move hex balls into the fenced area scoring points. An additional challenge is to have both Clawbots balanced on the bridge in the center of the field before the one-minute timer rings. Skill and speed are crucial for quick accumulation of points.

On February 11, three of the Duneland School teams, Jackson, Liberty and LIS participated in a competition at Colonel Wheeler School in Crown Point with schools from all over the area. The VEX IQ robotics program is for grades 1-8, but these teams were only up against elementary/intermediate schools at this competition. The teams participated in several rounds of a teamwork challenge. This year's game is called "Crossover," and requires students to talk with other teams to come up with a strategy to get as many points as possible. The robots had to move "hex balls" to different locations on the playing field for points.

The LIS team was the only team that went to the final round (one of the top ten teams), and ended up in sixth place at the Crown Point competition.

Those teacher recipients utilizing these grants were Amanda Cleary and Samantha Bailey of Jackson Elementary; Justin Martinson and David Mueller of Liberty Elementary, Mary Zromkoski of Yost Elementary and LIS Science teachers Sue Gore, Phylicia Barth, Todd Young, Kellie Cahillane, Connie Linsemeyer and Dominee VonNostran