Beth Wardlaw, technology and robotics instructor at the school, said the students assembled the robots and programmed them all by themselves. Their robots competed in three different activities: a ball toss, a relay race and a ball stack on the robotics table.
Thursday’s battle was to help them prepare for a robotics competition in May at the Floyd County College and Career Academy.
“We wanted to kind of get them used to some of the activities we’re going to be doing and let them practice and get out all the kinks before the competition,” she said.
She said there are 16 robots that were developed by students in groups of three, and it helps that they’re apt at video games as the robot controllers are similar to Xbox controllers.
“We started the Technology Student Association this year, and we wanted to see how many students were interested before we joined the state chapter,” Wardlaw said, adding that she’s been working closely with staff at the College and Career Academy to increase her students’ interest in the academy’s robotics and engineering programs.
She said when she pitched the idea of a TSA to students she was floored by the level of initial interest.
“I had 52 students sign up for it,” she said. “That was amazing for me. It was students I had in class the first nine weeks, and they really liked the technology class, wanted to learn more about it and were more interested in robotics.”
The students started working on their robots in January, she said, using digital manuals they access via computer.
“They log in and have to keep a notebook and portfolio. They read about the programming and the robot, and then they have to build it,” she said. “It’s thousands of pieces. They put the robots together themselves based on the program, and they hook it up to the computer and program it. It’s taken them about two months to do it.”
The technology teacher said she was beyond impressed with her students.
“The sixth-graders have blown me away,” Wardlaw said. “I didn’t think they’d be able to pick up like they have. The seventh-graders are more talented — they’re ahead in the points — but the sixth-graders still amaze me.”