Local schools show skills at RARC robotics competition 2

The Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit of Northwest Louisiana Competition 2 held on Saturday, February 9, 2019, at the Bossier Civic Center allowed students to dive into subjects like marine biology, biomimicry, mineralogy, and ichthyology in this year’s Marine Discovery themed challenges. RARC is a series of three cyber and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions for students in grades 2-12.

“RARC is a hands-on, minds-on informal learning opportunity that allows students to use their creativity to design and build a robot to accomplish tasks on a large, colorful competition mat. More than that, though, the students must work together as a team, develop a strategy to complete as many tasks as possible within the time limit, translate that strategy into a computer program, and find solutions when things don’t go according to plan. They are learning to become the knowledge-based workforce and innovators of tomorrow who will help our community and our nation succeed,” said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach for the Cyber Innovation Center.

To illustrate for the students and their parents how the cyber and STEM skills introduced through RARC can lead to a variety of academic and career pathways, a local professional offers a presentation at each competition. Dillon Soderstrom, Park Naturalist at Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park, discussed conservation projects he has participated in throughout his career and brought a live Eastern Screech Owl for the crowd to observe. Mr. Soderstrom also provided information about the park’s work on Cornell’s NestWatch program and the park’s activities and programs that are available to the community.

Throughout the competition, teams from Bossier, Caddo, Natchitoches, Sabine, and Webster parishes accumulated points based on their performance and were ranked accordingly. In the elementary division, South Highlands Elementary swept the category with South Highlands Team 5, South Highlands Team 2, and South Highlands Team 4 winning first, second, and third place, respectively. Webster Team 4 triumphed in the middle school division and was awarded first place. Webster Team 7 won second place, and Greenacres Team 4 was named the third place winner. In the high school division, Airline Team 1 emerged as the first place winner followed by Cope Team1 in second place and Cope Team 2 in third place.

“I am impressed and proud of all the students who competed. I am also impressed with our community’s support of this valuable education program. Over one hundred volunteers from local K-12 schools, colleges and universities, industry, and Barksdale Air Force Base donated their time, encouraged the students to do their best, and served as positive role models,” commented Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker.

RARC is sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center’s NICERC, Bossier Parish Schools, the City of Bossier City, and Caddo Parish Schools. To learn more about RARC, please visit http://nicerc.org/rarc/ or www.facebook.com/CIC.NICERC.