NEW PALESTINE — It was their first robotics tournament, but Doe Creek Middle School students showed they know their STEM stuff.

Doe Creek Middle School students recently attended the Heritage Christian School VEX IQ Tournament, a robotics challenge for Indiana elementary and middle school students.

There were five parts to the tournament — teamwork, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) challenge, robot skills, programming skills and an engineering design challenge.

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The middle school took several teams to the contest and most took home some honors, teachers said.

The Black team took home fourth place in the teamwork competition, in which school groups were paired up to score as many points as possible in one minute.

The Black and Red teams snagged first and second place in the STEM challenge in which teams had to make a presentation to a group of judges about how to solve a problem using the scientific method. The other Doe Creek teams made it into the top 10.

Doe Creek’s Blue team placed in the top 25 in the state in the robot skills challenge in which they used a driver-controlled robot to score points.

The seventh-grade Bucks team is ranked ninth in the state after its first place in programming skills.

The VEX IQ Challenge is presented by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, according to It is a new STEM program for elementary and middle school students age eight to 14.

As part of the Doe Creek Middle School STEM initiative, educators at the school have started after-school programs incorporating engineering and problem solving for students.

Science teachers Mary Jones and Jaemala Smith started an after-school Science Club. Later, once they had received some funding, they started a VEX IQ program to teach their students about robotics.

Students will build a robot, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, using the VEX IQ robotics platform. An engineering challenge is presented in the form of a game. VEX IQ Challenge teams will work together scoring points in teamwork matches and also display their robot’s skills individually in driver controlled and autonomous skills challenges.

Students did really well considering it was their first robotics competition, educators said — they hope to qualify for the state tournament later this year, Jones said.

Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or