Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit kicks off 2019-2020 Series

The Bossier Civic Center was teeming with excitement on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, at the first competition of the 2019-2020 Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) in North Louisiana. RARC is a series of three cyber and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions for students in grades 2-12.

“I am proud the City of Bossier City can host elementary, middle, and high school RARC teams from Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Vernon, and Webster Parishes and Bowie County, Texas, at the Bossier Civic Center. It’s encouraging to see more parishes taking advantage of this informal learning opportunity,” stated Mayor Lo Walker.

This year’s theme is Farm to Table. The students explored concepts like strip intercropping, irrigation, livestock care, and apiculture while programming their robots to autonomously accomplish several tasks on a large, colorful mat that looks like a farming community.

Each competition also features a presentation by local professionals who provide information for the students and their parents on how cyber and STEM affect our daily lives, education resources, or academic and career pathways. JoyBeth Moll and Chuck Gardner from the Cyber Innovation Center offered an interactive session on the science of baking for the elementary students. In the afternoon, Caleb Sheaffer with Shreve Memorial Library discussed activities and services available to students as they navigate their way to graduation and prepare for post-secondary education and career opportunities.

Throughout the competition, teams accumulated points based on their performance and were ranked accordingly. In the elementary division, South Highlands Team 4 emerged as the first place winner followed by South Highlands Team 1 in second place and South Highlands Team 3 in third place. Webster Middle Team 9 triumphed in the middle school division and was awarded first place. Webster Middle Team 8 won second place, and Webster Middle Team 7 was named the third place winner. In the Parallax/high school division, Caddo Magnet High Team 2 earned first place while Airline High Team 1 and Cope High Team 3 took second and third place, respectively.

“RARC reinforces cyber and STEM concepts students learn in the classroom and offers students the opportunity to develop 21st-century skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. The RARC committee aims to raise the bar for students, and the students are eager to go above and beyond. This competition alone, four middle schools are competing up in the Parallax/high school division, and one elementary school is competing in the middle school division. We love their tenacity!” said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach for the Cyber Innovation Center.

In addition to the trophies, the RARC committee announced the second annual RARC scholarship that will be awarded in the spring to a graduating senior who has participated in RARC and who plans to pursue a cyber or STEM major at a two-year or four-year university. The $1,000 non-renewable scholarship was made possible by a grant from Lockheed Martin. The scholarship application will be available mid-November at https://regionalrobotics.org/.

RARC is sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center’s NICERC, the City of Bossier City, Bossier Parish Schools, and Caddo Parish Schools.  To learn more about RARC, please visit https://regionalrobotics.org/ or the RARC Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RegionalAutonomousRoboticsCircuit/.