By John R. Schirmer
The students are identified during robotics competition as Team 71852B. They’re from Nashville Junior High School, and they’re going to state in March.
Team 71852B, otherwise known as Scrapper Legends, in a “Red Alliance” with a team from Hot Springs Lakeside, won the junior high division of the VEX Robotics competition Saturday at Scrapper Arena. By winning, the team automatically qualified for state, which will be held in Russellville.
Thirty-one teams competed at the Nashville event, with about half from high schools and half from junior high or middle schools.
Brenda Galliher, robotics coach at NJHS, said the day “went well.” Team 71852B “had a great day, scoring a team season high of 26 points in one match. Their robot, designed to be highly maneuverable yet dependable, performed perfectly despite sustaining some damage on the field.”
Head driver Ethan Cavanagh “remained cool under pressure,” Galliher said. Programmer James Mathis’ autonomous program “performed almost flawlessly, winning them the coveted autonomous advantage points which ultimately launched them into the final round for the tournament win,” according to Galliher. Mathis was unable to attend the tournament because of a school band conflict.
The team also won the Skills Award for highest points scored in one minute, Galliher said.
Teams formed red and blue alliances with other schools for the competition. The Nashville group and the team from Lakeside were part of the Red Alliance for the event, which saw them compete with other teams in the Tower Takeover game.
They were evaluated in a number of areas during the day.
NJHS had two other teams in the competition, also using the Nashville zip code as part of their designation.
“Team 71852A, aka the Fantastic 6, also performed admirably, entering the final bracket in second place but were knocked out in the quarterfinals,” according to Galliher.
“Team 71852C, the uWus, also held their own despite some challenges with their new and unique robot delivery system, making it to the finals but coming up short
in the quarterfinals,” Galliher said.
Galliher is “proud of the determination and team spirit that all three teams displayed on Saturday.”
She thanked the administration, volunteers from the schools and community, as well as all who came out to support this event.
“It was a huge success and could not have happened without the signature Scrapper commitment to excellence,” Galliher said.
Earlier in the week, Galliher and the students discussed NJHS robotics with members of the Nashville School Board.
Galliher said there are 500 VEX teams across the state. The program aims to “inspire students, one robot at a time,” she said.
Competition day “looks like chaos,” according to Galliher, with teams competing and preparing their robots all over the court at Scrapper Arena.
Preparation began in August when students started working on their robots.
Several of the team members talked about the work which they have done to prepare.
They are required to keep a notebook which is evaluated on competition day. Robots are inspected before they take the court.
In the Tower Takeover game, robots pick up blocks and place them into towers. Students are responsible for the computer programming required for the competition and for building and operating the robots.
“It’s not about the trophies but the learning,” Galliher is quick to point out. However, she added Saturday afternoon after 71852B won that the “trophies are pretty nice too.”