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Bulldog ‘Bots Crush Competitors

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KMS squad takes fifth against a field of high school teams

Kearney, Mo., April 25, 2022: A fierce and talented corps of Kearney Middle School students proved they know how to build an education while breakings things apart.

“Chosen One,” a robot designed, built and operated by KMS students, battled its way to fifth place during the BotsKC 2022 competition on April 22-23 at Rockhurst High School. The Bulldogs were the only middle schoolers at the event, and they faced down an impressive field of high school teams. A second KMS robot, named “Wall-E,” also participated in the event and took 19th out of 26 squads.

“When you think about the fact that this was our very first battle ‘bot competition and our kids were facing high schoolers, this is an outstanding result,” Activity Advisor Mindy Gray said. “Everybody on our team won at least one match, which is great for those students and a fantastic way to launch a new activity!”

Ms. Gray and fellow Activity Advisor Tricia Mendel had both wanted to create a BotsKC team for some time. They had some previous experience with Lego robot competitions, but thought that their middle school students would enjoy the intensity of the battle-oriented machines that are used for BotsKC events.

“Battle ‘bots” are designed with defensive armor and offensive tools designed to disable their opponent machines. Two machines face each other in an enclosed arena while being operated by team members.

The KMS squad was launched last fall after Gray and Mendel selected 12 team members from the 42 students who had applied. Manufacturing Engineer Jeff Carlson of Martinrea International volunteered to help guide the team members as they designed and built their robots.

“The whole process was a great learning experience for our students,” Mendel said. “They learned a lot about teamwork, workflow, time management and accountability. Those are lessons that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

The KMS activity advisors are particularly proud of the fact that their squad had more girls – three – than nearly any other team at the BotsKC competition.

“Our girls did very well,” Gray said. “They weren’t bashful at all. And they are all sixth graders, which means they will be returning next year and serving as mentors for the new students who join the team next year.”

BotsKC aligns directly with Kearney School District’s Real World Learning program, according to Career Readiness Coordinator Stacy Holtzclaw. The Kansas City National Tooling and Machining Association started BotsKC to encourage and prepare students to pursue high-quality careers in manufacturing in this region. Visit to learn more.

BotsKC 2022 Competition Video Coverage:

Day 1 Livestream

Day 2 Livestream

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