Front row: Bell robotics coach Kim Ford, Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Bell fifth-grader Arik Teehee, eighth-grader Britt Littledeer, eighth-grader Jaron Proctor, fifth-grader Tucker Peetree, fifth-grader Rachael Drywater and Tribal Council Secretary Frankie Hargis. Back row: Cherokee Nation Johnson-O’Malley Programs Manager Mark Vance, JOM School Community Specialist Daniel Faddis, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd and Deputy Executive Director of Education Services Ron Etheridge.
Published March 30, 2017
TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation donated $850 to nine VEX Robotics teams from six area schools to help the teams compete in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, April 19-25.
Qualifiers include one team at Tahlequah’s Heritage Elementary and two teams at Greenwood Elementary in Cherokee County, one team at Westville Elementary and two teams at Bell Elementary in Adair County, one team at Roland High School in Sequoyah County, and two teams at Alice Robertson Middle School in Muskogee County.
The tribe’s donation covers the registration fee required of each team to enter the competition. Funding is provided from the sale of Cherokee Nation car tags.
“Robotics competitions provide an engaging activity for students while allowing them to embrace the spirit of competition in an educational environment,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “These nine teams have excelled at showcasing their skills and innovation, and they can now count themselves among the best robotics teams in the world. We commend them for their work and are proud to support their journey to the world championships in Kentucky.”
In VEX competitions, teams design and build a robot and put them to the test against other teams from around the world. Challenges incorporate concepts of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Regional, state and national competitions are held throughout the year, and champions from the local challenges qualify to compete at VEX Worlds held each April. Nearly 1,400 teams will participate in the world championships this year, including 287 Oklahoma teams.
Eighth-grader Britt Littledeer, a student at Bell Elementary School in rural Adair County, found himself showcasing the ins and outs of robotics competitions to Hoskin, Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd and Tribal Council Secretary Frankie Hargis during a recent visit to the school.
Team members thanked Cherokee Nation for paying their entry fee to the world championships.
“When we competed at the state competition, we were ninth in the world, and that was out of 31 countries,” said Kim Ford, who coaches Bell robotics along with her husband, Trent Ford. “That was out of 800-and-something teams.”
Bell’s robotics teams are in only their second year of competitions, but their successes haven’t gone unnoticed.
“We got to this point because of the kids and their ideas,” Kim Ford said. “Trent and I try to think of what we use that helps us get things done in our lives, and then we tell the kids and they just take it and pretty much run with it and try to build it. It’s trial and error, but they just keep trying.”
Representatives from the nine teams supported by the Cherokee Nation will carry the tribe’s flag during each of two Parade of Nations ceremonies held during the competitions.
In previous years, the Cherokee Nation has provided a number of schools with the equipment necessary to begin robotics programs.
For more information on this year’s VEX Worlds, including a link to live-streaming activities, log on tohttp://www.roboticseducation.org, click on “Competition Teams” and then “VEX Robotics World Championship.”