Johnson County Middle School Robotics Team celebrate their win in world competition.

By Marlana Ward

Middle school robotics teams from around the world gathered in Louisville, Kentucky to compete for top honors at the 2017 VEX World Robotics Competition from April 19th through the 22nd. Teams from North America, South America, and across different parts of the Asian continent came together to showcase their youths’ talent for engineering and passion for the world of robotics.
Johnson County Middle School represented our community well as they took to the world stage with their enthusiasm and professionalism. “The team had no idea what to expect from robots around the world but made sure that their robot, notebook, skills, and program were working in top notch order prior to reaching the event,“ JCMS Science Instructor and Robotics Team Coach Susan Quave shared.
The team’s hard work and dedication resulted in JCMS winning the VEX Robotics Create Award. This award was presented to the best out of 80 teams from around the world competing to prove their team’s merit.
According to the VEX Robotics Competition website, “The Create Award is presented to a team whose robot design incorporates a creative engineering solution to the design challenges of this season’s game. This key criteria includes: robot is a well-crafted, unique design solution, demonstrating creative thinking; team has demonstrated a highly creative design process and methodology; team has committed to ambitious and creative approaches to playing the game; and the team demonstrates teamwork, interview quality, and team professionalism.”
For JCMS to have reached such a high status within the short time the team has been assembled within the school system is a great testament to the students who participate and the teachers, mentors, and parents that support them. “As coaches, we feel that the team has surpassed any expectation we could have imagined for a team this young,” expressed Quave. “We realized that many schools in attendance have been participating in a robotics program as part of their STEM curriculum for some more than 10 years before ever reaching the World Competition. We certainly have never dreamed that our team would be on the stage in two years! Although, we were not surprised by their accomplishments as we saw the potential for this team to reach what seemed an unattainable goal in such a short time.”
The JCMS Robotics Team 3075B is comprised of: Isaac Brown, programmer/design; Dillon Trivette, driver/builder; Hunter Graybeal, team leader; Matthew Peake, parts/ builder/battery supplier; Lauren Paterson, student ambassador for the VEX World Competition; Robert Coffey, programmer and team scout; and Harlan Savery, team scout.
The team’s involvement at the world competition was not only about the robotics. “The team was excited about meeting the members of team members from around the world,” said Quave. “They exchanged money with other teams’ members and were excited to receive so many different types of currency.” Lauren Paterson was also given the honor of leading the parade of nations as well as serving as a student ambassador to the Australian University Team.
JCMS hopes that their performance in the VEX World Robotics Competition will inspire more STEM programs within our region. “We are hopeful that our performance this season will initiate interest to all elementary, middle, and high schools in the area,” stated Quave. “We are hopeful that they will apply for VEX robotics team grants and start more teams in Northeast Tennessee.”
As for the future of JCMS Robotics, Quave shared how she would like to see the program grow. “We would like to increase our robotics program by adding more teams. However, the cost of each cortex (brains) of the robot and the parts for each robot hinder making the robotics program accessible to more than four students per robot/cortex. There are also virtual world, products, and skills programming events that we did not enter this year. We would like to increase our program to enter those competitions as well. Our plan is to grow into these events and make robotics accessible to many more students.”
The team would like to thank all the generous sponsors within the community for their support and belief in the team. “We would not have been able to attend if it wasn’t for many businesses and individuals who generously donated funds to send us to the event,” said Quave. “We hope we made Johnson County and the surrounding area very proud!”
With wonderful, supportive sponsors, a dedicated staff of instructors and mentors, and students full of dreams and passion for science, the future of JCMS Robotics seems bright and focused on tomorrow. This year’s award is surely the first of many to come as Johnson County competes against the world in future scientific contests.