FreedomBots headed to world championship

FreedomBots practice on April 20, 2017 (WLUK/Mike Moon)

FREEDOM (WLUK) -- These robots might look like toys, but to these students the machines are the tools of advanced learning.

Freedom Elementary School students built the bots.

The FreedomBots team, as it's called, is one of the elementary and middle school teams from the area heading to a competition in Louisville, Kentucky.

The competition is called the VEX Worlds IQ Challenge.

Thursday was the FreedomBots' last practice before the World Championship this weekend. The team and their robots are ready to roll.

"Our robots, they can pick up two balls at a time, they can turn left and right," said team member Andrew Shepard.

Through the VEX competitions the challengers work in teams to control or 'drive' the robots to complete tasks.

The FreedomBots robots move balls to earn points. The 3rd, 4th and 5th graders designed and built the bots.

"Then you program it and drive it," Shepard told FOX 11 News.

Coaches told us the program teaches students a lot of STEM skills.

"Which is science, technology, engineering and math," explained coach Danica Killam.

The students learn troubleshooting too.

"Sometimes a program doesn't go correct. So sometimes you have to do a program multiple times," Shepard told FOX 11.

And they learn how to interact with others.

At the competition they will be randomly paired with another team, possibly from a different country.

"Explain what their robot's good at and understanding with their partner teams what their robot's good at and then to plan it all together to work as a team to build points," Killam told us.

Aside from learning a lot, students say they're having fun.

"Driving and spending time with my friends that are in my grade," said team member Clint Schumacher.

And they're ready to spend time in Kentucky this weekend competing with the best in the world.

"I'm excited about traveling, seeing all those different landmarks, also the driving part," said Schumacher.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and last year were just two points away from going to worlds," added Shepard.

Meaning victory is even sweeter for the FreedomBots this time around.

About 1,300 teams from across the world will go to different levels of the championships.

14 are from Wisconsin. Of those 14, a dozen represent Northeast Wisconsin schools.

At the high school level the schools from our area going are from Xavier, North Fond du Lac, St. Mary Central, Wrightstown, Fox Valley Lutheran and Valley Home Schoolers.

At the middle school level the schools from our area going are Maplewood, Valley Home Schoolers and St. Clare Catholic.

At the elementary level the schools from our area going are Freedom and Xavier.

You can watch a live stream of the event here.

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