When Thomas D. Gregg School 15’s Robotics team, the Elite Bulldogs, meet to build their robot and practice, there’s more going on than getting ready for the City of Indianapolis VEX Robotics Championship.

Faculty advisor Valerie Carlisle said the 6th-grade students for the group were chosen by their teachers to participate. They were high achievers, but shy. Now they are a team and focused on their goals of building their robot and winning ​competitions.

“Students are running the group,” Carlisle said. She admits she doesn’t know much about robotics. “The kids really get to … build and learn.”

And that’s just what they have done. Part of the competition involves the team keeping a log of their work. That log has helped them. When one claw on their robot wouldn’t work, the students “went back to old notes about another claw,” said one student, Jayson P. “We saw what we did to that one, and it helped fix the problem.”

Latrice B. agreed, “I liked … finding out what mistakes we made as we made them.”

The students of the Robo Toros robotics team at Theodore Potter School 74 have also learned more than how cool the robots are. One student, Steven-Ray S., said his favorite thing about the group is “working together and helping each other out as much as we can.”

Karla S. agreed, “That we all get to work together” is her favorite thing about being a part of the robotics group.

Faculty advisor and 4th-grade teacher Lynn Diaz said, “Students that wouldn’t ordinarily work together have come together on this. Friendships have been made that wouldn’t have been made otherwise.”

Teamwork, problem solving and friendship may not be what these students expected when they joined their robotics team with dreams of building their own robot and driving it in competition, but that’s what many of them have found.

And with the Indianapolis Public Schools robotics teams continuing on past this weekend’s VEX competition, the students get to continue learning and enjoying those unexpected benefits through the rest of the year.