LAPEL — It’s been an exciting, fun and educational first half of the school year for certain students at Lapel elementary and middle schools interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

To help those students learn about those fields through hands-on instruction, district leaders have created a robotics team. The team gives the students the chance to make and work with robots they showcase in competition with other robotics teams around the state.

Andrea Allison, a second-grade teacher at Lapel Elementary School, is one of the educators working with the students on the team.

She said she has enjoyed watching the students develop skills in STEM disciplines.

There are 44 fourth- through eighth-graders taking part in the after-school work sessions and on the robotics teams.

The goals are straightforward: Make a robot that can follow instructions during timed robotics competitions.

The contests give the students a chance to learn from their mistakes and make progress as the competitions progress throughout the year, Allison said.

The students have worked this year to design a robot that puts rings onto posts and then releases a tray full of rings.

The students use creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork in the design process, which encourages a cycle of building, testing and redesign, Allison said.

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