A TEAM of robotics whiz kids are off the Kentucky for the trip of a lifetime, after a stunning performance at the Australian Vex IQ Challenge Nationals last weekend.
St Anne's Primary school sent two teams to the competition, with team 2640V winning both the Energy Award and the Elementary School Excellence Award – enough to send them to the World Championships in April.
The school had only competed in VEX competition for the first time last year, before purchasing a game field and a second robot.
Twenty-three teams competed at the national finals in Melbourne for the chance to show their skills on the world stage in Louisville next year.
The students who participated in the St Anne's program gave up plenty of lunch breaks, weekend and even some school holidays to practice for the competition.
Each of them had their own reasons for getting involved; year five student Grace Doherty said she wanted to have a go because her cousin had inspired her.
“I have a cousin in uni, he's pretty smart, so I'm pretty interested in robotics and everything.
“He has all this tech at home and I'm pretty interested in that, and that's where I got the interest in robotics.”
For others, like classmate William Scammell, the motivation to get involved was a little more straightforward.
“I just really wanted to have a playing around with a robot,” he said.
“I'd never driven a robot until now, so I thought it might be good to give it a go.”
The students weren’t the only ones picking up awards though; their teacher, Belinda Moran, was awarded Mentor of the Year.
Ms Moran said she was extremely proud of the effort her students had put in to make it as far as they have.
“It feels so surreal that this little school from Albury is going to represent Australia on the world stage,” she said.
“We competed at various events throughout the year, and both of our teams winning awards at those meets eventually qualified us for the nationals.
“Both our teams actually qualified for the finals at nationals.
“We had the biggest support group with us, every student had family there with them cheering them on.”
Ms Moran said the children had bought into team practices and learning how to drive and program the robots.
“It's been a relatively short journey that has escalated from one robot with a homemade game board to having two teams and an official game board,” she said.
“The kids’ enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of this has been amazing.
“As far as I know we've had nothing like this at our school – we've had some high achievers in sport, but this is the first time students will travel internationally to compete for Australia.”