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VHS team competes in VEX Robotics

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

A Verbena High School team competed for the first time in the Technology Students Association Vex Robotics Competition on April 23.

Hunter Hayes and Maryanna Warner, who are 10th-grade, first-year students at STEM Academy at LeCroy Career Technical Center, built the robot from scratch and navigated it through a course during the competition.

“I enjoyed the building aspect of the competition the most,” Hayes said.

Warner said the competition was “a rare opportunity” in Alabama to work on a computer science project.

“These are opportunities that most students don’t get to have,” Hayes said. “Most of them don’t get the ability to come down here and do all this cool stuff.”

He said being a part of the program could help him get a job later in life.

“The job marketplace for robotics and stuff is growing every day, and there are not many people willing to do those jobs,” Hayes said.

Team sponsor STEM Academy teacher Jay LeCroy said the students had excelled in building and programming in their classes, so he offered them the opportunity to compete if they wanted to.

Competing as the Robot Red Devils, the students ranked 14th at the end of the day.

Williams said she enjoyed seeing the robots that other teams had created and getting ideas for next year.

“This was our first year, and we didn’t know too much what to expect,” Williams said.

During the competition, the robot needed to flip discs, grab flags and perform other tasks to score points. Warner said the robot also had to be programmed to run for 60 seconds on its own without external controls.

Warner said she wrote the code for this portion of the competition.

“I helped troubleshoot some of the problems we ran into and helped program it,” Warner said.

She said one of the challenges was to find wheels that would work well on the tile of the competition area.

Hayes said they had to “mentally prepare to have a really good attitude about this (competition) — that we were going to come out here and do good.”

He drove the robot and worked on its base and scissor lift portion.

Throughout the project, the team kept an engineering notebook chronicling the design, mathematical calculations and changes made to the robot.