From the Bossier Press-Tribune:

Bossier schools excelled Saturday at Competition II of the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) held at the Bossier Civic Center.

RARC is a series of four competitions held throughout the school year for students in grades 4-12 that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fundamentals, 21st century skills, and the liberal arts. The competitions are sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), Bossier Parish Schools, the City of Bossier City, and Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center.

More than 140 student-led teams competed in a variety of STEM challenges while at Competition II. Teams were broken into three divisions – elementary, middle, and high school; within each division, teams competed against one another until a first, second, and third place winner was announced. One challenge in which the elementary and middle school teams competed was a tug-of-war match, which required an understanding of torque, force, and friction. High school students competed in two board challenges and a technical writing challenge. One of the board challenges for example required methodical programming so that teams’ robots could properly search and identify locations of mines.

“RARC’s Competition II was a huge success. You could see the excitement on all the participants’ faces and it was great to see how well each team worked together,” shared Paul Spivey, NICERC’s Academic Outreach Coordinator.

“It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm in students! RARC is a quality program and I am so proud that our region has this to offer to our students,” Tom Daniel, Secondary Supervisor of Bossier Parish Schools. “This program provides a great opportunity for students to learn about STEM fundamentals, teamwork, and leadership. ”

Ceara Johnson, a fifth grader from South Highlands Elementary, shared, “I think cooperation and leadership with our team is very important. It’s really great to connect with each other. I love the fact that we can be so creative with designing and constructing our robot. The structure of the robot is key and that is fun for all of us.”

Parishes participating in Competition II were Bossier, Caddo, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Webster, and DeSoto as well as Harrison County. Throughout the competition, teams earned points based on their performance and were ranked accordingly. WT Lewis Elementary 5 emerged as the first place winner in the elementary division followed by Curtis Elementary 1 in second place and South Highlands 3 in third place. In the middle school division, Evangel Middle School 1 earned first place while Evangel Middle School 2 and Youree Drive Middle School 2 took second and third place, respectively. The first, second, and third place winners of the high school division were Louisiana New Tech 2, Haughton High School 1, and Parkway High School, respectively. 2012-2013 RARC grand champions will be announced at the conclusion of the fourth and final competition in May 2013. Grand champions in each division will be named based on the accumulated points from all four competitions, and those teams will receive awards in recognition of their excellence after the fourth and final competition.

Future RARC competitions will be held on Feb. 9, 2013 and May 4, 2013. To learn more about RARC and to see Competition I and II pictures, please visit www.nicerc.org/regional-autonomous-robotics-circuit/ or www.facebook.com/CIC.NICERC.