Bovina Brainiacs heading to international robotics competition

Published 2:47 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

The Bovina Brainiacs robotics team will be representing Mississippi in an international robotics competition in California after winning the Engineering Excellence Award at the statewide First Lego League Superpowered Championship in February.

Marion Hern is a teacher at the elementary school and coaches the Bovina Brainiacs. She said that the theme of the competition was energy, so the students decided to create a prototype for a more efficient energy collection system for hybrid school buses in rural areas.

“They have to perform a five-minute presentation on how they would save energy in their community,” Hern said. “The Brainiacs decided that we live in a rural community out here in Bovina, and so they learned that hybrid motors recharge by pressing the brake. And in a rural community, mailboxes aren’t as close for drop-offs for school buses.”

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Buses need to brake less in a rural area, which means a hybrid system would recharge less than if it were in an urban area, where homes are closer together. The team decided to make its prototype recharge using solar panels instead of brakes to determine if it was more efficient.

Hern said the work the team is doing is multidisciplinary in terms of the skills they’ve learned.

“The students have learned, one: how to research, and two: how to find reliable sources on the Internet and (learn) what’s not reliable data. It’s helped them with interviewing (skills),” Hern said. “They had a bus driver come in and sit down, and they had questions to ask and they recorded their answers. As far as the technology part, it has taught them coding on the computer. Out of the team of 10, eight kids have written code that the robot runs in the robot game, which is amazing that many have taken on the coding part of it.”

Three other Vicksburg Warren School District robotics teams participated in the statewide competition. The Academy of Innovation’s team, Energy Anew, won the Robot Design Award. Southpark Elementary’s Bionic Bulldogs placed first in the Core Value Winner category and the Bowmar Elementary Bowmar Builders placed second in both the Core Value Winner and Robot Performance categories.

This is the first year that Bovina operated a robotics club. The team will head to the Western Edge Competition in Long Beach, Calif., in May. They will compete against 70 to 80 robotics teams from around the world.

The Bovina Brainiacs are currently raising money for their trip to California in May. For more information about how to donate, please visit