Saluda Elementary’s FunGi(s) Lego Robotics team captured top honors at the Fourth Annual Carolina Isobots Regional Competition at R-S Central High School in mid-November.

Saluda topped a field of more than 50 teams from Polk County Schools, Rutherford County Schools and Spartanburg Districts One, Two and Four to win the competition.

The Carolina Isobots initiative aims to excite and engage more students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities. Throughout the year, elementary and middle school teams learn about programing a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology, completing complex missions on a challenge mat, and collaborating to research and solve a real-world problem related to the challenge.

This year’s challenge was called City Shaper and asked teams to identify a problem with a building or public space in their community and to design a solution to solve that problem.

The tournament consists of three judging sessions plus three rounds at a table where teams must complete as many missions as possible with their robot in two and a half minutes.

Saluda’s team won first place in Robot Performance, which recognized the teams that scored the most points in the Robot Game event, and the Isothermal Community College Champion Award, which honored a team that “embodies the (FIRST Lego League) experience by fully embracing our Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project.”

Team members competing for Saluda included Aidyn Brown, Rebecca Cannon, Ross Dow, Luke Garrison, Walker Paulson, Talon Ramsey, Madalyn Varnadore, Charlie Wagoner, Louisa Wood and Julianna Wierzbicki. Kevin Burnett serves as the team’s coach.

FIRST LEGO League is a national robotics program for 9 through 14-year-old students, designed to get them excited about STEM and teach them valuable employment and life skills. During the season, teams meet weekly to build and test their robots and to prepare the project and presentation elements of competition.

Local business and community leaders are encouraged to become mentors for students by working directly with teams to share their experience and by helping to shape hands-on learning experiences that reach students beyond the classroom.