Students gathered Monday afternoon in the upper elementary gymnasium to congratulate and send-off the team as they head to Houston.

At the upper elementary level, one might assume the basics of algebra and a more thorough English vocabulary would be a student’s focus. The Eldon Elementary Robotics team kicked that expectation to the curb and decided to build a robotic display good enough to compete at the world level.

Students gathered Monday afternoon in the upper elementary gymnasium to congratulate and send-off the team as they head to Houston. The team, who call themselves the Eldon Gearheads, is comprised of eight students ranging from fourth to sixth grade. They will be flying out of St. Louis toward Houston to join other teams of students at the World Robotics competition.

The theme of their competition is based on Hydro-dynamics. The goal of the robot was to be programmed to complete certain tasks. The Eldon Gearheads are part of the Lego league division, meaning their creation was built out of Lego blocks. Their creation is programmed to move around a space and completing water-based tasks, such as pushing down the plunger on a lego toilet. The brains of the Lego blocks built by the Gearheads are programmed through computer software that the students coded themselves to make the robot move.

At the beginning, the entire competition scope consisted of slight over 18,000 teams. Now, the Eldon Gearheads are in the top 50 teams in the world Lego league. The blocks and robotics technology being used to control the team’s creation was funded by the 21st century community learning center grant. 

On Monday, the school gathered in the gymnasium and watched as the Gearheads discussed the different aspects of what they do, led by team service leader Colleen Abbott. Abbott riled the crowd to cheer for the team by yelling out the Gearheads name in pep rally fashion. Afterwards, a number of the kids involved in the team performed a skit for the audience to explain what the functions of their research were used to achieve. Parents and community members were also allowed to fill the auditorium space, which was full to capacity.

Abbott says she hopes that the success of this team will inspire the remaining branches of the Eldon school district to double down on robotics teaching. Though the high school had robotics aspirations previously, she says it never went to the levels this elementary teams has achieved. Seeing these young students do the complicated and amazing things they do, Abbott believes it will inspire others to take part. 

“These kids are pushing past expectations,” Abbott said. “I think others are becoming interested in what’s being done.”