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Akron Public Schools Robotics Team Invited to World Championships

photo of Curtis Vex robot
Curtis, the robot, was created by one of the robotics teams at the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School in Akron. His teammate, Morty, will compete in the world championships in April.

A team of high school students from Akron will be competing this year to be crowned robotics world champions.

Curtis the robot is wandering around a classroom at the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame STEM High School in Akron. He’s a collection of gears, chutes and large, sturdy metal pieces that look like they’re from an erector set. He’s part of the school’s robotics program that has spawned Team Destiny Boyz, who have been selected for the Vex Robotics Competition in April – a first for the school. 

Team Destiny Boyz is made up of seven seniors who will take their robot, Morty, to compete against more than 600 teams in Kentucky in April.

The students have to learn coding and engineering as part of the school’s program. Competing in robotics also helps them practice communication skills, as three-year team member Hagan Leeds Richman explains.

“At competitions, you are paired with someone against two other people. It really pushes you to network and plan strategically with other people. So learning how to communicate with others in a way you’re going to apply to the real world later on, in whatever field you go with – is really important.”

Senior Kala Mahanke from Team Croc Crew says participating in the program has helped her learn more about coding and engineering while also honing her social skills. “We like to learn. We like to try different parts of this just to get a rounded experience instead of just sticking with what we’re good at,” Mahanke said.

Kala's team and others from the school are headed to the state competition next month and – if successful – could also be invited to the world championship. 

This is the first time the NIHF-STEM school has sent a team to worlds, but not the first time for Akron Public Schools. Spokesman Mark Williamson said Dan Spak from Firestone High School has had at least one team make it to the VEX World competition.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.