This past Saturday, almost 200 teams from nine school districts across Louisiana and Arkansas kicked off the 2014-2015 Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) by competing in Competition 1 at the Bossier Civic Center. RARC is a series of three science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions for students in grades 3-12 that build upon one another and allow teams to showcase their STEM and 21st Century skills by competing against other teams within their division (elementary, middle, and high school) in STEM and liberal arts challenges. The competitions are sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), the City of Bossier City, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, Bossier Parish Schools, and Caddo Parish Schools.
The theme for this year’s RARC is Exploring New Realms, and teams in each division were given a space related mission to accomplish using a robotics platform on a professionally designed competition mat. Under the theory that Planet Earth is running out of resources, elementary and middle school teams were challenged with programming their robot to explore an exoplanet that seems capable of sustaining life, remove debris from the planet for research, plant a flag to claim the planet, and then orbit the plant to survey it in its entirety. The middle school teams also competed in a quick answer trivia session that included both STEM and liberal arts questions. Meanwhile, the high school teams were also assigned a space mission that required their robots to autonomously traverse a much larger solar system filled with turns and obstacles on its journey to the exoplanet. The high school teams participated in additional challenges that required the teams to practice their coding and communication skills.
G.B. Cazes, Vice President of the Cyber Innovation Center, explained RARC’s impact, “RARC is now in its sixth year and reaches more students every year. Our first competition of this school year has a 33% increase in participation compared to last year. Not only have we opened up the competitions to younger students by including third graders, we are attracting more schools from the region. We are thrilled that so many students are benefitting from this STEM and cyber learning opportunity!”
Throughout Competition I, teams accumulated points based on their performance and were ranked accordingly. In the elementary division, South Highlands Team 3 emerged as the first place winner followed by South Highlands Team 1 in second place, and W.T. Lewis 5 in third place. In the middle school division, Haughton Middle Team 6 earned first place while Haughton Middle Team 4 and Cope Middle Team 9 took second and third place, respectively. The first, second, and third place winners of the high school division were Benton High Team 1, North Caddo Team 1, and LSMSA Team 1, respectively.
To learn more about RARC and to see pictures from previous competitions, please visit http://www.nicerc.org/regional-autonomous-robotics-circuit/ or www.facebook.com/CIC.NICERC.