HVMS students prepare for worldwide competition

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Four students from Carter County will represent Northeast Tennessee at a global level in the coming months.

Happy Valley Middle School Warbots Team 31110V — made up of Ryan Eggers, Clara Smith, Zach Stephens and Jackson Taylor — were able to take home a state tournament win over the weekend at Brentwood Academy, ultimately clinching a bid to the upcoming VEX Robotics World Tournament set for April.

The team will be one of 180 middle schools from across the globe to compete for a championship. Teams participating in the event range from China, South Korea, Thailand, Canada and across the United States.

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“It seems crazy we actually made it into Worlds,” Taylor said. “This is my first year doing this. This is really a great achievement for our community since we’ve really been working on this for the past three months. We’re now planning to build a bigger robot to do better in Worlds.”

Tuesday morning, Taylor, Eggers and Stephens took time to start the process of Worlds preparation. Smith was unavailable during the day but teacher Mike Dorsey, who oversees the program, added she has been a key asset for the progress of the team.

And progress is something that has been a joy for Stephens. The middle-schooler played a pivotal role in helping the second-year program get off its feet

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “The biggest thing we’ve done this year is set our expectations high. This will be a great experience for our team and something we can follow up for the years to come.”

Recalling the state competition, Stephens added the championship didn’t come easy due to the team encountering some problems with their robot.

“It was really an intense atmosphere,” he said. “You could tell people were there to win it.”

But the ability to overcome adversity comes back to chance to work as a team, according to Eggers.

“I honestly didn’t think we would reach this point,” Eggers said with a laugh. “But this has been great. We’ve really learned how to work together as a team and work toward a common goal. We’re excited to represent Northeast Tennessee and we’ve really come a long way from our first year.”

Area businesses and organizations are able to contribute to the program’s trip to Worlds, which will take place in Louisville, Ky.

Individuals can visit their GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/hvmsrobotics to make a monetary donation to the program. More information on the robotics program can be viewed at the VEX Robotics website.

But according to Stephens, the ability to grow the robotics program countywide is very important with the changing technological landscape.

“It’s great to see the support for these types of programs,” Stephens added about other county schools implementing programs. “As STEM-related functions grow, it is important to have these programs to help develop an interest in the program. This is something I hope to see grow over the years.”