An adventure around the world came to an exciting end at the Bossier Civic Center on Saturday, April 30, 2016, as the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) hosted its final competition of the 2015-2016 school year. RARC is a series of three competitions for students in grades 3-12 that engages students in cyber and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning experiences that also integrates the liberal arts through a theme. The 2015-2016 RARC theme, Exploring the Wonders of the World, allowed students to explore cyber and STEM fundamentals through use of a robotics platform as well as learn about geographical wonders like the Amazon rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef through a competition mat and detailed storyline.
“It’s amazing to see how enthusiastic the students are at the competitions. I think every adult in the room wishes that the hands-on learning RARC provides was available when they were in school. I am proud that Bossier City sponsors RARC for the students in our region,” commented Mayor Lo Walker.
In fact, over 200 teams from public, private, and charter schools and homeschool and afterschool programs from eight Louisiana parishes (Bossier, Caddo, Lincoln, Livingston, Natchitoches, Richland, Sabine, and Webster) and two Arkansas counties (Miller and Union) registered for RARC Competition 3. The third competition not only included challenges the teams prepared for in advance through prereleased guidelines, but also boasted a mystery challenge that was revealed to elementary and middle school teams at the competition. Teams had thirty minutes to use their 21st century skills like critical thinking, communication, and teamwork to program their robots to accomplish the challenge without the aid of their coaches.
Throughout the day, teams accumulated points based on their performances and were ranked accordingly. Trophies were awarded to the first through third place winners during the awards ceremonies. In the elementary division, Plantation Park Team 1 emerged as the first place winner followed by Princeton Team 2 in second place and Curtis Team 1 in third place. For the middle school division, SBC Middle Team 1 triumphed and placed first while T.O. Rusheon Team 2 earned second place and Greenacres Team 3 won third place. Delhi Charter Team 1 took first place in the high school division followed by Benton Team 1 and Caddo Magnet Team 2 in second and third place, respectively.
Adding to the excitement of the awards ceremonies, the RARC grand champions for the 2015-2016 circuit were also named. The grand champion results are based on an overall circuit score, which is a tally of the highest point total earned by each school’s top team at each competition. Scores from all three competitions were given equal weight. After calculating each school’s existing scores with the results of Competition 3, the following schools/organizations finished in the top three in each division: South Highlands (Elementary School, 1st place); St. John Berchmans Cathedral School (Elementary School, 2nd place); Legacy (Elementary School, 3rd place); Elm Grove (Middle School, 1st place); T.O. Rusheon (Middle School, 2nd place); Broadmoor/FDDOC (Middle School, 3rd place); Delhi Charter (High School, 1st place); Caddo Magnet (High School, 2nd place); Benton and Southwood (High School, 3rd place tie). All grand champions received technology awards to further the robotics programs at their schools.
G.B. Cazes, Vice President of the Cyber Innovation Center, explained, “It’s important to provide resources to schools so they can update their existing technology or expand their programs so that more and more students can benefit from cyber and STEM education programs.”
RARC is 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. To learn more about RARC, please visit http://nicerc.org/rarc/rarcla/.