By Tia Lynn Ivey
After a tough state competition against 41 Georgia robotic teams last weekend in Athens, the Morgan County Robotics Team managed to earn a spot at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri on April 27-30. Only 13 teams were chosen to move on to the international competition.
“This is a huge deal,” said Alec Johnson, Morgan County High School’s (MCHS) robotics instructor. “It’s not everyday a Morgan County team competes in a world championship event.
But the MCHS Robotics team needs the community’s help to get to the World Championship at the end of the month. Between registration fees, travel expenses, and lodging, the team will need $20,000 by April 24 to attend the world competition. The Morgan County Charter School System is looking into fronting the $5000 to help with transportation costs. Johnson has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the other $15,000 needed. As of press time on Tuesday, April 19, the page has already collected $$8,595 in donations. To make a donation, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/robodogstoworlds. Johnson asked the community to consider also sharing the page on their personal social media sites to help get the word out.
The Robotics program at MCHS is part of the STEAM initiative (Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math), which aims to incorporate all five categories of STEAM. According to Johnson, the robotics program has introduced many MCHS students to engineering, a career path, many of whom would have never considered otherwise.
“A lot of these kids would have never thought of engineering was even a pathway for them without this program,” said Johnson, who noted two MCHS seniors, Colter Smith and David Key, are planning to pursue engineering studies at Georgia Tech because of their time on the robotics team.
David Key credits the robotics team with giving students the opportunity to delve into “applied learning,” where students can actually try out the abstract scientific and mathematical concepts they’ve been taught in other classes. David Key regards his time on the robotics team as invaluable in the effect it has had on the direction of his education. “It helped me figure out the direction I want to go in my life, said David Key. “It helped me realize that I want to go into engineering.”
While David has enjoyed his time on the robotics team, he never dreamed the team would make it to the world competition.
“It’s a big deal for a small-town team. I never though we would make it,” said Key. I was very surprised and very excited. I was in such shock. My teammates were afraid I was about to pass out.”
Colter Smith joined the robotics team his freshman year at MCHS and credits the program for solidifying his childhood dreams of becoming an engineer. “I would say when I was a kid that I wanted to become an engineer, that I wanted to build things, but I didn’t really know what that meant…the robotics team gave me a chance to explore engineering to see if it was really what I wanted to do.”
Colter was touched when he learned the news that his team would be heading to the World Championships later this month.
“I was thrilled and I even teared-up,” said Colter. “We have been working toward this moment for years.”
To find out more about the Robotics Team, visit their Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/FIRSTteam3600.
There is only a few more days to donate to the team can finally compete in the world championships, so make your donation soon!