AURORA, Neb. — An invasion will take over Aurora Middle School on Saturday: 24 robots, 100 competitors and 102 bean bags. Bean bags?

Yes, bean bags.

The Aurora Robotic Huskies VEX Tournament will be Saturday at the middle school. The competition is hosted by the school and the Nebraska Public Power District.

Twenty-four teams representing 10 schools from Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas will compete to qualify for world competitions. Teams from Aurora Middle School, Ravenna and Cross County along with Holdrege, Omaha North, Omaha Gross, Chase County and Columbus are among the competitors, plus teams from Topeka, Kan., and Council Bluffs.

VEX Sack Attack is played on a 12-foot-by-12-foot field. Two alliances composed of two teams, each including a robot, compete by taking bean bags through various goals and by having the team with the most robots parked at the end of the match.

“In addition to just having a great time and building amazing robots, this program helps students learn and understand the engineering, technical and programming skills needed in building a robot, plus develop teamwork skills, leadership and sportsmanship,” explained Kim Liebig, NPPD outreach programs specialist.

Chad Johnson, education specialist at NPPD and coach for the Aurora team, said one team of four kids put in more than 1,000 man hours in building a robot.

“They design, build, test and program their robot, then start all over when they figure out their design didn't work,” he said. “They are very complicated machines. People are amazed that sixth- and seventh-graders built them.”

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