From the Cyber Innovation Center:
Each spring the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) committee focuses its energy on two tasks: STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and cyber mystery tasks that will be revealed onsite at competition three and a celebration of the hard work of the schools and organizations from eight Louisiana parishes and one Texas county that participate in the series of three robotics competitions.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the cancellation of the spring competition, but it could not stop the celebration. Rather, the committee used its problem-solving and teamwork skills, 21st Century skills teams are encouraged to hone during the competitions, to create a virtual celebration through Zoom and Facebook on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
“The RARC committee and our dedicated volunteers love the competitions, and we missed seeing our elementary, middle, and high school teams and celebrating their accomplishments. Therefore, we focused on the cyber aspect of our program and hosted on online closing ceremony for the 2019-2020 circuit all the participants deserved,” stated JoAnn Marshall, RARC Coordinator at the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC). Grand champions were named based on an overall circuit score, which is a tally of the highest point total earned by each school’s top team at each competition. Scores from the fall and winter competitions were given equal weight.
In the elementary division, South Highlands Elementary earned first place followed by Legacy Elementary in second place and J.S. Clark Magnet in third place. Webster Junior High triumphed in first place in the middle school division with Elm Grove Middle and South Highlands winning second and third places, respectively. Two high school/Parallax division teams, Caddo Magnet High and Cope Middle, tied for first place while Airline High earned third place. All grand champions will receive technology awards to further the robotics programs at their schools.
“Our school and students have enjoyed participating in RARC since 2013. I am incredibly proud of my teams, and I think it’s fantastic they earned first place in the high school/Parallax division this year. The technology award will go a long way toward equipment purchases,” said Terence Flores, Caddo Magnet High School coach.
In addition to the school awards, one individual award winner was announced. Thanks to a grant from Lockheed Martin Corporation, RARC is able to offer one, non-renewable $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior and RARC competitor who plans to pursue STEM and cyber at a two-year college or four- year university. The winner of the RARC scholarship was Jenny Rae Langston from Plain Dealing High School.
“RARC has taught me how important STEM, teamwork, and patience are. I can use those skills when I attend the University of Louisiana at Monroe in the fall. I plan to become a pharmacist and return to Plain Dealing so I can give back to my community. I have seen how much our local pharmacists help our community members,” said Jenny Rae Langston.
Before the virtual celebration concluded, Charlene Cooper with Bossier Parish Schools revealed the 2020- 2021 competition dates and mat design. The space-themed mat coincides with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Mars 2020 mission and future human exploration of Mars and will allow students to explore topics like space vehicles, space stations, and constellations.
“The 2020-2021 RARC series may look a little different than the RARC of the past nine years due to the pandemic, but we will find safe ways to engage our students in grades 2-12 so they are inspired to take on life changing challenges like space exploration, vaccine development, and cyber communication and ensure our tomorrow is even better than today,” explained Kevin Nolten, CIC’s Director of Academic Outreach.
RARC is sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center, the City of Bossier City, Bossier Parish Schools, and Caddo Parish Schools. To learn more about RARC, please visit: https://regionalrobotics.org/ or the RARC Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/RegionalAutonomousRoboticsCircuit/
Photos Courtesy of: The Cyber Innovation Center