FOREST CITY, NC – On Saturday, December 2, 2017, twenty-eight teams from Rutherford County Schools, Polk County Schools, and Spartanburg County School District Two competed in the Carolina Isobots Regional Competition held at Isothermal Community College. The Carolina Isobots is an initiative between Rutherford, Polk, and Spartanburg counties that aims to excite and engage more students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities.
Throughout the year, FIRST LEGO League teams from elementary and middle schools learn about programing a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology, completing complex missions on a challenge mat, and collaborating to research and solve a real-world problem related to the challenge. FIRST LEGO League is a national robotics program for nine- to fourteen-year-old students designed to get them excited about STEM and teach them valuable employment and life skills. During the season, teams meet weekly to build and test their robots and to prepare the project and presentation elements of competition. Local business and community leaders are encouraged to become mentors by working directly with teams to share their experience and by helping to shape hands-on learning experiences that reach students beyond the classroom.
Teams observe the FIRST LEGO League’s Core Values – celebrating discovery, teamwork, and gracious professionalism. Because students are responsible for every aspect of their work, they cultivate important leadership and collaboration skills. Teams compete in local scrimmages to prepare them for regional and state tournaments. This season’s focus on Hydro Dynamics challenges teams to improve the way people find, transport, use, or dispose of water.
During Saturday’s competition, teams were scored on three presentation sessions and several rounds of timed competition. In the Project Presentation session, teams presented a research project they conducted aimed at solving a real-world problem related to water usage. In the Robot Design session, they presented how they designed their robots to meet the demands of the mission challenge. During the final presentation, the Core Values demonstration, students presented how they worked together to complete the competition collaboratively and professionally. Finally, each team participated in three rounds at the competition table, where they completed as many missions as possible with their robots during a two-and-a-half-minute table run. This timed competition was open to the public, and excitement filled the room as teams put their skills to the test.
While awaiting final the day’s results, teams were treated to demonstrations by the Rutherford Early College High School (REaCH) robotics team, the Omegabytes. The Omegabytes build and compete with robots that perform complex tasks like stacking objects several feet high. Following the high school bots demo, competitors, coaches, teachers, and parents alike joined an impromptu dance party. Superintendent Dr. Janet Mason addressed the excited crowd and helped present team trophies. The day’s top honor, the Champion Award, was awarded to the Sunshine Elementary School team — the League of 8 — for embodying the FIRST LEGO League experience by fully embracing the Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project. The full list of awards include:
- Inspiration Award: Robot Raiders (Boiling Springs Middle School)
- Teamwork Award: HydroStars (Forrest Hunt Elementary School)
- Gracious Professionalism Award: W.C. Bots (Saluda Elementary)
- Research Award: H20 Heroes (Forest City Dunbar Elementary School)
- Innovative Solution Award: Aquatic Eagles (Chase Middle School)
- Presentation Award: Stingbots (Spindale Elementary School)
- Mechanical Design Award: Robo Rockets (Rutherfordton Elementary School)
- Programming Award: RoboDawgz (Harris Elementary School)
- Strategy & Innovation Award: Water Warriors (Rainbow Lake Elementary School)
- 1st Place Robot Performance Award: League of 8 (Sunshine Elementary School)
- 2nd Place Robot Performance Award: Wrecking Rockets (Rutherfordton Elementary School)
- 3rd Place Robot Performance Award: h2oh! (Chase Middle School)
- Against All Odds Award: Hydro-Maniacs (Pinnacle Elementary School)
- Rising Star Award: Rockin’ Robots (Cliffside Elementary School)
- Champion Award: League of 8 (Sunshine Elementary School)
Rutherford County Schools, Polk County Schools, and Spartanburg County School District Two would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the Carolina Isobots:
- Rutherford County Schools Educational Foundation
- Ultimate Textile, Inc.
- Isothermal Community College
- Forbes Foundation
- Papa John’s Pizza
- Lakeside Mills
The Carolina Isobots could not exist without the countless hours of coaching and encouragement offered by coaches, mentors, and parents throughout the year. Those contributions help provide opportunities for students to build essential knowledge and develop critical life skills that help to prepare them for college and career success.
Photos are courtesy of Chelsea Rush.