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North Hosts November 16 Robotics Competition

Photo by Natalie Wilson
Megan McCliment overlooks the arena and tallies up the score as the competing teams wait in anxiety.

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It is 7:00 am and five teams of the Raider Robotics are running through the door and stampeding their robots with eager hands. Having spent hours upon hours of their after-school lives, toying with these far-from-toy robots, no one can wait to show off their work at North Forsyth’s VEXNet Robotics Competition. All the twenty-four spots have been filled, and the anticipation is rising as Mrs. Jodie Marshall, Engineering and Robotics Teacher/Coach, tries to get a handle on all of the commotion. With the smell of an exploded battery filling the room and the weight of the anxiety of students from around the county in the air, I decided to snag up Mrs. Marshall at a time where she looked least conflicted.

ME: So Mrs. Marshall, how long would you say these student have been preparing for this competition?

MRS. MARSHALL: Oh my goodness, I am not even sure where to start. Between rounding up workers for this event and making all of the assignments necessary to keep today running smoothly, I would say a good solid 3 weeks to a month. There is a lot more work that needs to be done than what most students presume.

Oh I definitely see that now! This is chaotic! How have these students adapted to working with teams and battling through the pressure?

Well, with five teams here from North Forsyth, and about three people per each robot, they have certainly  had to learn how to share responsibility with others and really work out each other’s strengths and weaknesses to the advantage of the team. You really have to connect with your group to make it all work.

Besides working as a group, what skills would you say these students have learned from robotics?

Everyone on the team had to learn so many new skills to keep their heads on straight. The things I believe that these hard-working kids will take away from their high school robotics experience are time management, leadership, troubleshooting, organization, and, most importantly, how to handle problems in a split second. Like today, we had a smoking battery in one of our robots and the students had to handle that all by themselves.

I noticed on my journey around the gym that robotics seems to be a sport most common to males. But on second look, I realized that the few girls there were appeared to be more focused and dedicated than anyone else in the room. At the end of the day, I decided to pull over North Forsyth’s Sydney Wright to get her point of view on Raider Robotics.

So Sydney, what is it like to participate in a predominantly male hobby?

SYDNEY WRIGHT: Well there’s definitely some discrimination towards the females in robotics. I’ve had people tell me that there is no way I could have put together all of things I have on our team or tell me to get a male on the field when I am driving the robot. They just see that I am a girl and don’t understand that I have put just as much work into this as the rest of my team has.

Oh, I totally understand. Do you have the intention of going into a career that involves engineering or mechanical design?

For a while I thought I would like to become a bio-mechanical engineer, but then as I got older I decided that I would really like to go into a science career.

 

North Forsyth Raider Robotics has had a successful competition this weekend. Of the five teams that came, two of them made it to the semifinals where they both put up an honorable fight.

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North Hosts November 16 Robotics Competition