Boone County middle schoolers find success with robotics

BURLINGTON, Ky. -- A group of Boone County middle school students learned everything they know about VEX Robotics in the past year. And now they've already gone to the world competition.

Team Trail Gators is made up of students from Camp Ernst and Gray middle schools in Boone County. They've gone from being curious about machines to building them.

"I enjoy it," Gray seventh-grader Laden Huey said. "Yeah, I feel like everyone enjoys it. It's such a good learning experience to work with a robot like that."

Team parent liaison Shannon Daugherty said "nothing worked" at the team's first practice. 

"Then the kids had to spend about half an hour figuring out what was going on," she said. "And they tackled it on their own."

They call their robot Genesis 5.0 because it's taken several renditions to get it exactly as they want. This is the fifth version.

Camp Ernst STEM teacher Sarah List said what teachers can do with students at an earlier age is increasing.

The team went to the world competition in Louisville. They came in 65th in the world out of more than 1,800 middle school teams.

"Pretty much, if you want to enjoy it and go further and put your mind to it, you can do it," Camp Ernst seventh-grader Mason McDonald said.

School officials hope the students' interests in robotics will translate into high-tech jobs in the future.

"A lot of people want to know, 'How does something work?' So, this is how they can get their hands in it," Camp Ernst Principal Stephanie Hagerty said.

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