Lexington Park, MD –  Ridge Elementary School entered the VEX IQ Challenge Championship for the first time this year and carried away half the awards at the packed tournament hosted by the College of Southern Maryland and held at Great Mills High School.

Ridge Elementary team was started this year by a donation from The Patuxent Partnership, which bought all the robotics equipment needed for them to start a team.  Northrop Grumman donated $750 in additional funding.

Ridge won three of the six awards: Programming Skills Champion (autonomous mode); Driver Skills Champion; and the Excellence Award for overall outstanding performance and participation, including Engineering, Robot performance, the team’s STEM Research Project, and team spirit.

Spring Ridge Middle School, another recipient of The Patuxent Partnership STEM support, fielded four Robotics teams this year and two will be joining Ridge at the state tournament held the end of February, as well as teams from Esperanza Middle School and King’s Christian Academy.

“The Patuxent Partnership is very proud to be a steady supporter of STEM and Robotics,” said TPP Executive Director Bonnie Green. “Robotics programs are a great way to develop our future workforce.  Our members and the Navy have made it clear that workforce development, emphasizing STEM careers, is a priority.”

The Robotics teams have been particularly popular. Cain Sauer, Robotics Coach at Ridge Elementary, said the number of students interested in being on the team far exceeds the school’s resources. The Ridge team was created this year following a donation of a robot kit and competition table from The Patuxent Partnership. “We didn’t expect to have so many interested students. As a new team, we did not have the funds necessary to buy all the equipment needed. Thanks to Northrop Grumman’s support, we will be able to buy two additional robot kits to accommodate all of our students. It really is an investment in our future, not only as a team, but as a community,” said Mr. Sauer.

Winners of the state competition will go on to the World competition in Kentucky in April.