Student robotics competition kicks off in Norman

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NORMAN, Okla. – A big competition is being held in Norman as some of the nation’s brightest young minds meet to put their skills to the test, showing off robots they built from scratch.

“We have robots that have invaded Norman from around the world,” said Steve Goodgame, executive director at Kiss Institute for Practical Robotics.

The global conference on educational robots, known as KIPR, kicked off Sunday. Students were the opportunity to compete even without school programs.

“I’m on a team, an all-girls robotics team that we run out of our basement because none of our schools have robotics teams,” said Emilie Whitewolf, an 11th-grade competitor.

The event is aiming to encourage students to further their knowledge and meet with others to help with career opportunities in technology.

“You’ll see middle school and high school kids who are showing their solutions with autonomous robots. By autonomous I mean, no remote control. These robots are running on artificial intelligence,” Goodgame said.

This year, it’s being held at the Embassy Suites, featuring entertaining and educational activities, including tournaments and guest speakers.

It has grown over the years to become one of the largest gatherings of elementary, middle and high school students.

”We have kids from Africa. We have kids from Europe. We have kids from China. We have kids from Canada. All around the country and a lot from right here in Oklahoma,” Goodgame said.

The best part about it? Any kids can build robots if they set their mind to it.

“Everybody says you have to be a brainiac. You do not. You just have to have early exposure and work and practice at this,” Goodgame said.

“I think it’s fun to think through the problems and stuff like that,” Whitewolf said.

The conference goes on throughout the week with the finals being held on Thursday. You can also go out and watch the championship rounds. The event is free and open to the public.

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