The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 6, 2013

AMS robotics team needs your vote in competition

From staff reports
The News Courier

— The Athens-Limestone community has a chance to help Athens Middle School’s robotics team secure a $110,000 grant for the school.

The team is among the finalists for a technology grant as part of Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow contest. The initiative will provide more than $1 million to schools nationwide.

Students on the robotics team chose recycling as their topic, and recently spent time at the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center and Custom Polymers PET to learn more about plastics recycling. After the team’s application essay made it to the semifinals, the students were required to make a two-minute video showcasing their project.

Athens Middle School teacher Jennifer Kennedy said 40 students have been working on the project since Thanksgiving. The students comprise two robotics classes and Kennedy’s after-school competitive team.

She said the first-semester robotics class came up with the recycling concept, and the second-semester class took that idea and ran with it.

“The whole reason we applied for this grant was for new robotics materials and to replace our iMac (laptops),” she said. “We’re the only school in Alabama (to be participating). It’s wonderful they’ve had the opportunity to see their hard work come to fruition. If you put yourself out there, fabulous things can happen.”

More than 1,500 application essays came from teachers and students across the country. The top 75 were chosen and sent video production kits containing a Samsung laptop, camcorder and software from Adobe.

The students found out Monday their video made the top 15 for the $110,000 grant. Securing the top prize, however, will require a majority vote from the community. Those interested in voting for the school’s video should visit Voting closes on March 4.

The first time a person votes, he or she must register a name, email address and ZIP code. Votes may be cast once daily per email address.  Each time a vote is cast, the vote must be validated. 

Samsung will send an email to the voter containing a link, which must then be clicked to validate the email address. The vote will not be registered until the email address is validated after each daily vote. After the initial vote, subsequent votes only take a minute.

“The school could really use this technology (grant),” said Lynne Hart, executive coordinator of Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful. “ … We just really need the community to vote.”

By making it this far, the school will receive $40,000 in technology. If the school is awarded the $110,000 grant, the robotics team will be invited to attend a special awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.