Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | Students from T.O. Rusheon Middle School prepare their programmed robot for competition.

Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit kicks off a year of adventures in Cyber and STEM

Students from Louisiana and Arkansas set out on an adventure to explore the Wonders of the World and their own academic potential by participating in the 2015-2016 Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) Competition 1 Nov. 14 at the Bossier Civic Center.

RARC is a series of three cyber and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions for students in grades 3-12. G.B. Cazes, Vice President of the Cyber Innovation Center, explains, “RARC engages students with fun, hands-on learning experiences that introduce and reinforce cyber and STEM fundamentals, encourage 21st Century skills, and integrate the liberal arts. These competitions help students understand why cyber and STEM are so important and how they are incorporated into our daily lives.”

The theme for the 2015-2016 RARC competitions is Exploring the Wonders of the World. The elementary and middle school teams programmed their robots to crisscross a competition mat that resembles a map of the world and accomplish tasks related to three specific Wonders of the World. For example, one task was to deliver engineering equipment in the form of LEGOs to civil engineers at Niagara Falls who are attempting to increase the Falls’ hydroelectric generating capacity. Meanwhile, the high school teams programmed and designed their robots to survey one of the many uninhabited land masses on Earth and collect resources that will be necessary for future explorations.

Over 220 elementary, middle, and high school teams from Bossier; Caddo; East Baton Rouge; Lincoln; Livingston; Natchitoches; Richland; Webster; and West Feliciana Parishes and Union County, Arkansas, registered for the first competition of the school year. “Competition 1 saw not only a record number of team registrations but also participation from public, private, and charter schools as well as homeschool and afterschool programs,” said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach for the CIC’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center.

“The City of Bossier City is proud to host such a wide variety of teams from parishes ranging from south Louisiana to north Louisiana to southern Arkansas,” commented Mayor Lo Walker. “It has been amazing to see so much talent at RARC over the last several years. These competitions are developing the knowledge base that our region needs to succeed.”

Throughout Competition 1, teams accumulated points based on their performance and were ranked accordingly. In the elementary division, South Highlands 5 emerged as the first place winner followed by South Highlands 6 in second place, and Legacy 2 in third place. In the middle school division, Greenacres 3 earned first place while Elm Grove 5 and T.O. Rusheon 2 took second and third place, respectively. The first, second, and third place winners of the high school division were Delhi Charter 4, West Feliciana 1, and Benton 1, respectively.

RARC is sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), the City of Bossier City, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, Bossier Parish Schools, and Caddo Parish Schools. To learn more about RARC and to see pictures from previous competitions, please visit http://nicerc.org/rarc/ or www.facebook.com/CIC.NICERC.