Beverlye Magnet teams sweep state robotics competition, moving on to world stage
Dothan Eagle. Sable Riley. March 05, 2019.

Beverlye’s Magnet School 7th grade robotics team will be moving on to the World Robotics Championship in April after winning the state competition out of 43 teams in Auburn last weekend.

Both robotics teams are moving on to compete against roughly 400 teams from around 45 countries.

This is the teams’ first year competing in the VexIQ challenges,where students are scored based on teamwork, robot skills, and a STEM research project.

Allison Batts, adviser for the teams and “Project Lead the Way” teacher, said the biggest challenge was the emphasis on working with other teams to earn points.

“When you’re on the field, you really have to work with your alliance,” she said. “You want to score as many points as you can, but in order to do that, you have to work well with a team that you have not prepared with.”

The teams had 60 seconds to attain the highest score by scoring and stacking colored “hubs” in building zones, removing “bonus hubs” from the hanging structure, and by parking or hanging their robot on the hanging bar.

They also compete individually on the same course with a robot, where they are tested in driving skills matches, and programming skills matches, which are autonomous with limited human interaction.

Batts said students are learning a lot about communication and collaboration in the process.

“They all have different ideas, of course,” Batts said. “They really have to come together as a team and make those decisions … they really have to agree on the design of the robot. It drives one way, but it programs completely differently.”

Robotics helps students learn critical thinking and problem solving. Batts said students have to choose different characteristics for the robot based on what they want to accomplish, such as torque, strength and speed.

“They design the robot on their own,” she said. “They’re constantly making modifications and tweaking in order to improve performance.”

One of the teams has decided to scratch its most recent robot, in favor of building a newer, better one from scratch for the world competition.

Their overall scores are derived from challenge scores, a comprehensive engineering notebook – where students are tasked with documenting design, strategy, and processes, robot design and the STEM research project.

Students on the team had much to say about why they joined the teams to begin with and what they learned along the way.

“A lot of us were pretty interested in robotics already, so it was pretty exciting that there was a robotics team being formed,” Nadia Batts, notebook lead, said.

Some students said the team was a way to get involved with classmates, while many said the skills they’ve learned could be carried on to future careers, like Ethan Peele, who said he was considering a future in astro-engineering.

The process helped students make friends at home and with team members from other schools.

“We got closer together as friends,” Davis Kirkland said. “We’ve formed a bond over time.”

The competition itself was challenging, but overall rewarding experience for students.

“It was nerve-wracking to compete with everyone else, and see where you stand compared to everyone else at this point,” Chase King said.

BMS Team 1 consists of Nadia Batts, Chase King, Ethan Peel, Jayden McCory, Braxton DeLoney, and Cooper Smith. Besides being overall state champions, they also won first place in the teamwork challenge and the STEM research project and won second in the robot skills challenge, for which they are currently ranked 54th worldwide.

BMS 1 will attend the Invitational U.S. Southeast Regional Robotics Tournament in Mississippi later this month.

BMS Team 2 consists of Briana Milton, Price Barkett, Owen Stephens, Davis Kirkland, Carter Whitehurst and Logan McNiel. They won the Design award and received third place in the robot skills, for which they are ranked 136 in the world.

Members hope to continue their journey with robotics more in-depth as they enter into Dothan Preparatory Academy next year.

The worldwide VexIQ robotics competition will take place in Louisville, Kentucky beginning April 28.

Beverlye Magnet school is currently recruiting sponsors and/or donors to take the teams to Kentucky. Interested parties can contact the school for more information.

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