CRESTVIEW — A trio of robotics teams from Crestview will be making a trip to the East Coast this weekend.
The Florida FIRST LEGO League’s State Invitational will take place April 8 in St. Augustine. Teams from Davidson Middle School, Shoal River Middle School and Hub City Robotics received invitations to compete in the tournament.
In addition to receiving an invitation to the state tournament, the Davidson LabRatz won the Robot Performance Award at the Northwest Florida Regional FLL Tournament. They are one of three teams Tim Sexton coaches, a science and technology teacher at Davidson.
Sexton has been coaching robotics teams at the school for seven years, and has coached teams that won county championships two years in a row.
“When we say Davidson robotics, now we have a reputation about us,” Sexton said. “They expect a certain level of expertise.”
Rachel Pridgen also helps coach the LabRatz. She said the first-year team stuck to the basics, but was still able to compete at the same level with teams that incorporated more complicated technology.
“We just really wanted to build a good, strong foundation in basic programming and basic simple machines,” she said.
The LabRatz also received an invitation to the Razorback Invitational May 17-20 in Fayetteville, Ark.
Laurie Allen is in her 11th year of coaching robotics teams for Shoal River Middle School. This year, her Lethal Legos team secured a bid to the state invitational. They also won the Gracious Professionalism Core Values award at the regional tournament.
Allen talked about how youth robotics in Crestview has grown over the course of her 11 years of involvement.
“The first year that I went to competition, it was Shoal River and Meigs (middle school), and that’s it,” she said. “Now, to see it grow to this size, it’s pretty amazing. We want it to grow. We want it to be huge.”
Allen said all of the Crestview teams embrace the spirit of coopertition, an FLL core value that balances cooperation and competition.
“We’re very much a family and a team,” she said.
Hub City Robotics, a team comprised of students from multiple Crestview schools, also received a bid to the state invitational. The team won overall Tournament Champion at the regional tournament, earning them a spot in the FIRST Championship in Houston the following weekend, April 18-21.