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The Morning Bell: Lawrence Township students excel in VEX Robotics League

Lawrence Township highlights Vex Robotics Program

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Every month, WISH-TV highlights a local school district with “The Morning Bell,” a conversation focused on new or exciting programs and accomplishments within Indiana schools.

On Monday students and staff from the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township joined Daybreak to talk about the “Vex Robotics League.”

According to the district, VEX Robotics allows students to apply their STEM skills in an enthralling game-based engineering challenge. The LT Elementary VEX Robotics League was created in Lawrence Township to allow all 11 elementary schools to participate in this program. Students practice after school and compete in intra-district competitions. 

Kevin Kemper is the principal of Indian Creek Elementary School and oversees the program across the district.

“The Vex Robotics League in Lawrence township, it’s in its third year. Our goal as a VEX Robotics League is to have as many students as possible participate in the league,” Kemper said. “Through some partnerships with the Lawrence Township School Foundation and Tech Point for Youth, we were able to start every school with one robot and we’ve grown every year. All 11 elementary schools in Lawrence Township now have three teams. So we had 33 teams compete for this trophy. Today we have Brook Park Elementary here, they were the winners of the Excellence Award just because they exuded excellence in the entire tournament.”

Olivia Shouse is a STEM/Robotics Coach from Brook Park Elementary School. Her team of students brought home the 2024 Excellence Award.

“A lot of it is mentorship. Because it really is a student-centered program. We want them building the robots, we want them programming the robots,” Shouse said. “So it’s really just teaching them what the program is, how it works, you know? How do we fit pieces together, things like that. But it really is a student-centered program.”

Guiliana Salazar and Abby Bailey are students in the league for Brook Park Elementary School and won the 2024 Excellence Award. 

“We build parts and we have to program how to drive it by itself,” Abby explained. 

The students said their original robot did not work, however, they rebuilt it in two days.

“It’s so fun and it’s important because you can learn from building things and building things can help you get smarter,” Abby added.

The district says it hopes to expand the league and have 44 teams next school year.

“Hopefully more kids are watching saying, ‘Hey, I want to do that next year.’ And that’s the goal and that’s the vision of the VEX Robotics League – to learn these skills that these girls have learned. Not only the hard skills of putting it all together, the coding, the programming, but the soft skills of not giving up perseverance and teamwork,” Kemper said.

(Photo Provided by the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township)