Van Buren Elementary School robotics team makes a comeback after months-long hiatus

The team was put on pause due to the pandemic
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:38 AM CDT
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) -Students at Van Buren Elementary School in Janesville have been in the classroom face-to-face - all year long. Because of the pandemic, the school had to limit interaction between students and staff so some extra curricular activities were put on pause for months.

“Because of COVID, we couldn’t be in close contact with other kids,” said 5th grader Chloe Adams.

But as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, some of those programs, like the Robotics Team, are making a comeback.

The Van Buren Robotics team began five years ago. Adams is a member of the team that was on hiatus until just a few weeks ago. The School District of Janesville recently gave the go-ahead to allow some of these fun projects to return.

“I think what makes this year even better is that we thought we weren’t going to have a season,” said teacher and Robotics Team coach Becky Carter. “We as coaches were just as excited as they were to know we were going to have a season,”

“I was really excited because I wanted to be a part of the club again and not just sit around and do nothing,” added Adams.

Since getting back together, the team has not wasted any time. They’ve been working hard to program a robot made of Legos to do certain tasks. Students and teachers say having the robotics team back is a huge bonus for everyone.

“I like that we get to program robots and code and sometimes, you can even make new friends,” said Adams.

In the beginning of the school year, the focus was on the health and safety of students and staff. Programs like the Robotics Team had to take a backseat. While coaches and team members understood the decision, the disappointment was still there.

“I think we felt the void of robotics right away,” said coach Kaleigh Pope.

Pope says the team is a great way for kids to learn outside of the traditional classroom environment.

“And it is the most extreme sense of pride that you can feel when your kids take direction and take ownership. And they almost run themselves now. I mean they truly do such a great job,” said Pope.

“They make coaching robotics very easy because they are so enthusiastic, and I feel like we are more encouragers. They do the work, and we cheer them on,” added Carter.

The Van Buren Robotics team won’t be competing in person this year like they have in the past. Instead, they will complete a video submission to judges and will compete against other teams in the Janesville district.

If the team did well in that competition, normally they’d go on to sectionals and possibly state, but those events have been canceled this year due to the pandemic.

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