COSAM News Articles 2018 August Mission 100 Launches Hands-on Training for Teachers to Create 100 New VEX-IQ Elementary Robotics Competition Teams in the State of Alabama

Mission 100 Launches Hands-on Training for Teachers to Create 100 New VEX-IQ Elementary Robotics Competition Teams in the State of Alabama

Published: 08/21/2018

By: Maria Gebhardt

Teachers from throughout Lee County and Phenix City participated in the first of four hands-on training sessions at the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) through Mission 100, a partnership between the Southeastern Center of Robotics Education (SCORE) at Auburn University and the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation. Mission 100 provides more than $1,400 worth of equipment and training to each school including VEX-IQ robotics kits, engineering notebook packs, challenge game pieces, teacher workshops and ongoing support. 

In the state of Alabama, only 83 elementary school teams participated in the entire state during 2017-2018. The Mission 100 project was initiated by Mary Lou Ewald, founding director of SCORE, after visiting the state VEX-IQ tournament at Jacksonville State University last spring. Mary Lou relayed, “I interviewed several elementary teachers at the state tournament and they were so enthusiastic about how much their students learned by participating in VEX-IQ. One teacher said it was the best thing she had ever done with her students in 15 years of teaching.”

Training teachers to understand how to build these robots is an essential step to build awareness and create a foundation for support. “The goal of Mission 100 is to ultimately more than double the number of new elementary school robotics teams in the state this year,” states Tj Nguyen, assistant director of SCORE.

Teachers had the opportunity to compete with their newly built robots in this year’s VEX IQ game, just like their students will do.  June Wiley from Westview Elementary had never tried to build a robot before and explains, “I am excited to show what I learned to my students!” These teachers are learning the very same techniques that their students will need to compete in the annual robotics competition.  Teachers also have any opportunity to get advice and troubleshoot problems, so they are prepared to coach their students. “I look forward to bringing my students together as a team to learn the design process and develop solutions to problems they encounter,” said James Ray from Ridgecrest Elementary.

Teachers had the opportunity to take their newly built robots through obstacle courses just like their students will do.  “I enjoyed the experience of taking the robot through the course because it seemed like a real-life video game, and I know my students will love this,” shares Heidi Casteel, James Wilson Elementary.

Mission 100 is supported by SCORE, the Daniel Foundation of Alabama, the REC Foundation, and the Greater Chattanooga Robotics Foundation. To find out how you can support a team or to learn more, visit

A gift of $500 to sponsor a school provides the materials and resources to start one sustainable robotics program at a school, and will be matched by the REC Foundation.  To learn more, contact Ashley Underwood in the COSAM Office of Development.


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