By: Marlana Ward
The Johnson County Middle School Robotics Team made Northeast Tennessee history when they became the first group from our region to compete in the nationally recognized VEX Robotics Competition. The team traveled to Nashville where youth from across Tennessee came together to showcase their talents and technological aptitudes in an atmosphere of futuristic competition.
The team consisting of Tyler Burleson, Sam Dempsey, Mitchell Hodge, Alex Jennings, Jackson Mays, Dalton Sluder, Jonathan Wilcox, Hunter Graybeal, Lauren Patterson, and Dillon Trivette along with coaches Susan Quave, Lane Sentell, and Terri Henson made a great showing of their skills and enthusiasm during the contest. Though the team did not advance to the national competition, the team was successful at gaining recognition from the officials and sponsors. “Out of 31 teams that qualified for the state competition, only nine of them were middle school teams,” Susan Quave of the JCMS Science Department shared. “We were very happy with making the qualifying rounds and to receive an interview appointment from the judges based on our design and our engineering notebooks.” The JCMS team had two robots entered in the “Nothing but Net” competition. Both of the teams’ robots proved worthy by scoring enough points to garner the team a place in the elimination portion of the competition. The team’s engineering notebooks received special recognition. “VEX State Judge Rich Miller stated that the JCMS teams’ engineering notebooks were very close to being the best engineering notebooks in the state,” Quave proudly stated. The competition itself was a series of matches pitting two teams’ pairs of robots against each other in a game showcasing their robots’ speed, agility, and functionality. Points were awarded for propelling balls into goals of differing heights and point values. Additional points were awarded when a team of robots was capable of working together to lift one into the air. Heading into the VEX Robotics Competition, the JCMS team knew there would be fierce opposition but found a sense of camaraderie in the end with their fellow competitors.
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