students watching their LEGO robot during competition

On April 15, students from four BCS elementary schools - Weaverville, Oakley, Glen Arden, and Haw Creek - had their first robotics team participate in a local competition put on by NC FIRST Robotics, a global community that offers a progression of team-based challenges. 

“Since the robot is only going to do what it has been coded to do, it’s up to the students to decide how and where the robot will move,” said Courtney Haynes, STEM lab coordinator at Glen Arden. “Even something that seems simple and straightforward like getting from point A to point B ultimately has a lot of room for decisions and creativity.”

The competition itself started with a 30 minute closed judging session where students showcased their robot designs and their innovation projects. Students also spent the morning networking with other teams and practicing for their robot games. The robot game in the afternoon consisted of four teams running their robot missions in front of a large crowd during three two and a half minute timed sessions. 

Weaverville Elementary School took home a first place trophy for their innovation project, out of about 25 total participating schools from the area. Oakley, Glen Arden, and Haw Creek also showed off their hard work and came away from the competition with pride.

“I learned to improve by being open to ideas,” said Rachel Rhodes, fourth grader at Haw Creek and member of the Rouge Bots team. 

“This protects power lines from storms, human error, snow and fallen trees,” said fourth grade Rouge Bots team member Logan Camry to judges during the competition, explaining their robot. “We came up with this idea when we were talking about blackouts.”

“It took a lot of trial and error and repetition, but they never gave up,” said Courtney Haynes. “Even during our competition when our first robot run did not go as planned, the team didn’t let it get them down. That perseverance helped them improve on their second round, and then ultimately achieve every mission they planned on their third attempt. It is a huge confidence booster to be able to set a goal, put in the work, and then see your goal realized.”

“It was absolutely inspiring to watch our students throughout the whole process,” said Sarah Von Williamsen, STEM Lab coordinator at Oakley. “Our group of students from different grades and classrooms found a bond working together as a team. Not only did we gain skills in robotics, coding, and engineering, but we also learned that 'together we are better' and are moving forward with skills in collaboration, encouragement, and teamwork.”