SHIRLAND, Ill. (WTVO) — The Robotics Club at Shirland Middle School wins first prize in The Sphero Robotics Global Competition.

The team is made up of four members all in the eighth grade. They each brought their own unique specialty to the team. Captain and leading the team is Aubrey Carlson. Other members are the engineer Olivia Storey, researcher CaroleAnn McLevige, and in charge of coding is Evan Brust.

“I think it’s very cool that we get to win together and kinda walk out as eighth graders knowing that we accomplished something really great,” Storey said.

“I think it’s much more rewarding to win with a team. You begin to bond with them, as you work, so it adds in when you think about the experience. It’s all the more fun when you have people in it with you,” McLevige said.

The task this year was to build a robot to help endangered species. The team chose the rare Vaquita to rescue. However, through their creation, they built something that would be able to help many more endangered mammals in the ocean.

Evan explained some of that final product.

“It models tissue paper being pushed in the air current. The bubble net is a device being used to help catch plastic pollution before it gets into oceans by only lifting pieces of plastic out of the water.”

That won them 1st place prize in the middle school bracket for the annual worldwide competition, beating out 300 participants. This is the third year in a row Shirland Middle School has won this competition.

With all of the students heading to high school, two are set on sticking with robots and pursuing work in the field. Still, all were happy to have the opportunity to compete and win as a team. The sixth team in Shirland’s history.

“There’s a good opportunity to see if there is something you are interested in if it’s coding or building or even the research aspect of it,” Carlson said.

“I think it opens up more opportunities to see what you like and find out if this is something your interested in,” said Storey.

The team is run by Hannah Pals, the Robotics coach, and a Math Teacher at the school.