Don’t call it beginner’s luck. Call it beginner’s success. The Early Independent School District’s robotics teams placed exceptionally well in their inaugural area competition.

At the Texas Computer Educators Association area competition held Nov. 30 in San Angelo, the Early High School robotics team earned second place in the advanced division. One team from Early Elementary earned second place in the intermediate division, which includes grades 4 through 8, and two teams from the middle school earned third and fourth places.

There were 93 teams in the area competition. This is the first year the EISD has had robotics teams, and the district had six teams competing. First, second and third place teams each received a trophy and team members are awarded ribbons. First and second place teams advance to state, and the third and fourth place teams may “draw a wild card” and also qualify to advance. The state competition will be held in April, also in San Angelo.

“This was our first year to have a robotics program,” said EISD Superintendent Brett Koch. “We’re just phenomenally pleased with how well our kids did.”

Keith Taylor is the elementary robotics team coach. Tami Hull is the coach of the middle school teams and Gidget Gifford is the coach of the high school team.

Each of the teams attending the competition were issued a challenge in October by the TCEA, explained Taylor.

“Every school had the same challenge to meet.”

Taylor said the students had to build the robot from a Mindstorm Lego NXT kit, then program the robot to perform tasks to meet the TCEA challenge.

To have five of its six teams place out of the 93 attending the competition, and especially considering this was Early’s first robotics competition, “Early did extremely well,” Taylor said.

Each team competed three times and scored points by completing tasks in the challenge. The two best scores were added together for the team overall score and ranking.

“Therefore,” said Taylor, “the high school and elementary teams will journey to San Angelo in April for the state competition. The third and fourth place middle school teams could earn a wild card place in the state tournament if their scores are high enough among all the scores in the state. That decision will be made in January.”