By Tia Lynn Ivey
The community came through for the Morgan County Robotics team at the last minute, raising almost $25,000 in just ten days so the Robodogs could travel to the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri on April 27-30. The Robodogs needed to come up with $20,000 in order to participate in this once-in-lifetime international three-day competition, featuring 900 teams from 39 countries comprised of 20,000 participating students and 40,000 spectators.
“This community is incredible,” said Alec Johnson, robotics instructor. “It’s awesome, I am so happy that this community came out and supported us like this. It means the world to these kids.”
The Morgan County School System pitched in $5000 toward travel costs. Instructor Alec Johnson started a GoFundMe.com page for the team, which received almost $12,000 in donations as of press time on Tuesday, April 25. The team received $2000 in private outside donors, a $10,000 donation from an anonymous sponsor, and raised $1800 working a fundraiser car wash outside of Thrify Mac last weekend. Any excess funds will go towards next year’s robotics competitions.
To see a livestream of the Robotics Team at the World Competition, keep watch on the team’s Facebook, where Johnson promises to post the link Thursday morning, April 27. The team’s page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/FIRSTteam3600.
“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.
The Robodogs will face-off against 75 teams in their subdivision. Only the top four teams will move on to compete in the finals. The Robodogs worked hard to make it this far and are hoping to make it all the way.
“The kids are excited and nervous. They are feeling the pressure, but it’s going to be a good time, not matter what,” said Johnson.
Only 13 teams were chosen to move on to the international competition from the Georgia State competition earlier this month. After a tough state competition against 41 Georgia robotic teams in Athens, the Morgan County Robotics Team managed to earn a one of the coveted spots.
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.
Good luck to our Robodogs has they face-off against the world’s leading high school robotics team this coming weekend. Regardless of the outcome, they have already come home winners.