By Melissa Robinson
Ola High School’s VEX
Robotics team, a group made up of 11 ninth through twelfth grade
students, recently competed in the Robotics World Championships held
in Anaheim, CA, where they had the opportunity to show off their
technology skills, as well as meet college recruiters and officials
Members of the 2012-13 VEX
team at the Robotics World Championship included Chris
Blount, Jalen Cornell, Will Crawford, Hunter Crigler, Zac
Gilmer, Ryan Law, Casey Loftin, Andrew Sarsany and Brannon
According to Christie
Schmitt, engineering and technology teacher and advisor, the
team had a great showing out of more than 700 teams, and the
competition, which pulled from 24 counties, featured more than
15,000 student participants, educators, mentors, industry
leaders and community members who came together for a common
interest in technology and to go head to head with their
custom-built and programmed robots.
The VEX Robotics Competition
was the finale to a successful year for these students, who
participated in various competition throughout the year.
According to Schmitt, this
year was the first year that the school had a robotics team, so
their success is a true testament to their hard work and dedication.
She said students met at least twice a week, and during the peak
competition months of January and February, students were often
meeting five or six times a week, sometimes late into the evening.
She said that during the course of the year, students worked through
the engineering design process and kept an engineering notebook as
they designed and refined their robot to solve the current years VEX
challenge, Sack Attack.
During the 2012-13 school
year, Ola’s team competed in seven competitions in Georgia and
earned several awards, including Rookie of the Year, two Design
Awards, the Judges’ Award, Tournament Champions and the Excellence
Award. It was the Excellence Award that qualified Ola’s students to
be one of the teams invited to attend the VEX World Championship.
The award is the highest honor in the VEX Robotics Competition and
is given to a team that exemplifies excellence in building a well
rounded VEX Robotics Program.
She said the accomplishments
of the Ola High School team are outstanding for any team, especially
a team in their first year. The students have already started
designing their robots for next year’s competition and will expand
their efforts to two robots as they move into next season.
Parent Michelle Gilmer, whose
son Zac is a freshmen on the team, accompanied the Ola team to
California and said it was an incredible experience for the
students. In addition to the opportunity of meeting top robotics
experts from around the world, the students had a chance to meet and
network with peers who share their same interest in technology. She
said the students got to broaden their horizons in several ways and
said Schmitt is a big part of why the team has been so successful.
“She’s a great teacher and
very dedicated,” said Gilmer. “And although the technology is really
incredible, the students also had to polish their social skills and
be able to explain their project to other teams and officials.”
Although it’s been a busy
season for Schmitt, she said she has a passion for robotics and
technology and loves to pass that on to her students.
“It’s worth seeing how
exciting it is for the kids and it’s really about learning,” she
She said although the current
team is made up male students, she expects to see some girls on the
team next year.
“We had an open house event for eighth grade
students and know that several girls are interested, so I’m looking
forward to that as well.”