By Marlana Ward
The Johnson County Middle School Robotics Team has brought great recognition to not only themselves but to all Johnson County with their recent performance at the VEX Robotics Competition in Brentwood, TN on March 3rd and 4th. The determined team of teenagers brought home the VEX Excellence Award which qualifies them to compete in the VEX World Competition in April.
Competition was intense with 38 schools from Tennessee competing in the robotics challenge. Some of the other schools competing had great advantages over the new team from JCMS. “Sometimes it is difficult knowing that we are competing with teams that have robotics as a regular class during their academic day instead of just after school,” expressed Mrs. Susan Quave of the JCMS Science Department. “These teams have obviously more time to work on their robots. Also, there are teams that have been competing for more than four years and have unlimited funding and support from their school system.”
Though surrounded by many enthusiastic teams from across Tennessee who all sought to excel within the competition, JCMS exceeded all expectations and captured the prestigious VEX Excellence Award “They were more confident in winning the design award for the engineering notebook and were also confident that the robots were going to perform on the field,” said Quave. “The excellence award was a real bonus!”
This award allows the team entry into the world competition that will see teams from across the globe traveling to Kentucky to exhibit their country’s best and brightest scientific minds. “This is the largest robotics competition in the world and includes over 1400 teams from all over,” explained Quave. “Some teams that have already registered are from China, Singapore, Korea, Japan, and the United States.”
The acceptance of JCMS into the World Competition holds special meaning for the school as well as the state of Tennessee. “World Competition. Johnson County Middle School is one of only two middle school teams to move forward to the VEX World Competition and the only public middle school team in Tennessee to move on to the world competition,” stated Quave.
The team from JCMS is very excited to compete alongside robotics teams from other nations. “They are ecstatic that they will be meeting people from all over the world,” Quave shared. “They are wondering how they are going to communicate with students that do not speak the same language.”
Throughout the process of learning about robotics and then putting that knowledge into practice, the students of JCMS have learned not only about robotics but also how to apply what they have learned in other areas of learning.
“The thing I learned from robotics is that it takes a team, hard work, brain power, and engineering skills to make everything come together and to achieve success even when everything does not go as planned. This has impacted my learning by opening my mind to new ways of thinking, learning, and looking at things differently and seeing the endless possibilities in the world as we know it,” team member Isaac Brown shared.
In addition to science, inclusion with the robotics team has impacted the students’ lives in ways that will benefit them throughout their lives. “Robotics has impacted me in many ways. My education being one of the many,“ said Lauren Paterson who holds the distinction of being the only female member of the team. “It has taught me to always stick with what I’m doing, and to never give up when things get rough. It helps me learn how to use the engineering design process in all subjects and it helps me succeed in ways in my education that have been rough. Furthermore, I do the engineering notebook, and that helps me learn how to write better and get my point through. I’m able to help the team and myself through robotics, and I’m so very glad I joined.”
The talented team of engineering fanatics from JCMS includes: Lauren Paterson, Isaac Brown, Robert Coffey, Dillon Trivette, Harlan Savery, Hunter Graybeal, and Matthew Peake. The coaching staff which has seen to the development of the team’s great skill and enthusiasm for science consists of Lane Sentell, Terri Henson, Brenda Eggers, and Susan Quave.
The team has seen great support from school staff, team members’ families, and the student body of JCMS throughout their robotics journey. “We would like to thank the robotics team coaches, the robotics team parents, and the team of dedicated teachers and the entire student body at Johnson County Middle School,” said Quave. “I would also like to thank the people and businesses in the community that have donated to our team and helped us travel to events.”
Success in the VEX competitions will have long lasting effects on the lives of the students from JCMS and play a major part in their future education goals. “The VEX robotics program offers scholarships to applying juniors who have been in the program,” explained Quave. The families of the young engineers recognize the talent and passion the teens have and are eager to help them achieve their dreams as Quave shared: “When you see parents travel to Nashville and other parts of the state every weekend to watch the team and even volunteer at events you realize that they are totally committed to their children’s success.”
The JCMS Robotics Team does not have time to rest. They are now turning their attention to preparing for their entry to the VEX World Competition. Travel to the competitions and costs for room and board can be difficult for a small team to obtain. Any persons or businesses within the community who would like to assist the team in their quest to showcase Johnson County scientific talent would be greatly appreciated.
“We are traveling to the Louisville, KY on April 18-22nd,” said Quave. “We are trying to raise money for travel costs, lodging and food. Any donations to the team are appreciated and may be sent to Johnson County Middle School Robotics Team, 278 Fairground Hill, Mountain City, TN 37683.”