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Coding their way to world competition

Godfrey-Lee — In Melissa Donovan’s classroom at Lee Middle School, three students known as The Prototypes prepared their robot for a skills challenge. 

At the sound of a timer’s horn, seventh-grader Remington “Remy” Holmes began driving the robot, built by him and teammates Eric Garcia-Heredia and Juan Madrigal. He maneuvered it through a replica battlefield to knock over a tower of plastic orange discs. 

“In a skills challenge, one robot tries to score as many points as possible by pushing the discs into the goal zone,” Eric explained.  

After placing fourth at the Michigan state championship at Kettering University in February, The Prototypes are currently competing at the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas.

They are the first team from Lee Middle School to qualify for the world competition. 

“Our robotics club meets after school once a week and students are able to work together to design creative and innovative solutions to solve problems,” said Donovan, the robotics coach and seventh-grade STEAM teacher. “They develop teamwork skills as they work together towards a common goal.”

The common goal for The Prototypes and their peers is to build, design, and code a robot ready for competition. 

“This team is pretty good at strategizing and collaborating with other teams during challenges,” the coach said.

Lee Middle School STEAM teacher and robotics coach Melissa Donovan has a field set up in her classroom for students to practice driving their robots

Fixing Problems, Finding Solutions 

Several Lee teams competed throughout the year; one other team, The Wolverines, competed at the state level with The Prototypes. 

“Lee Middle School sends teams with a lot of diversity and teams with a lot of female students,” Donovan said. “It’s been a great season. The kids all worked so hard.”

Participating in robotics helps her students develop technical skills in computer programming, mechanics and engineering, which are necessary for future careers in STEAM fields, she added.  

Part of the competition requires students to code their robots to complete tasks without a driver. Eric said they learned how to code their robot as they went along and he enjoyed learning how it all worked.

“It’s fun to drive the robot and we learned that sometimes, things break and you have to figure out how to fix it,” Remy said. 

With a full season of practice and competitions behind them, The Prototypes are relishing the opportunity to bring their skills to the world competition. 

“Worlds (brings) teams from all over the world, different countries, languages and skill levels,” Donovan said. “I think they’ll do great.” 

The Prototypes have been competing all season; they placed fourth at state competition and qualified to compete at the VEX Robotics World Championship

Read more from Godfrey-Lee: 
A final bow, but he’s not going anywhere
What’s your opinion? Students write about belonging

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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