The East Jackson Comprehensive High School Robotics Team competed against 26 school teams at the regional competition that was held on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Gwinnett County School of Math Science and Technology in Lawrenceville. The team competed to qualify for the state tournament that will be held at the Cobb Civic Center on February 21-22.

Skystone presented by Qualcomm is played on a 12x12 foot square field with one-foot high walls and a soft foam mat floor. The field was divided by the Skybridge into two zones – the loading zone and the building zone where the teams moved blocks to build skyscrapers as tall as possible without them toppling over. During the end game alliances earned points by capping their skyscrapers, moving their foundations out of the building site and parking their robots.

“I am super proud of the effort that our team has put in this year so far,” said Michael Shawler, EJCHS science teacher and robotics team coach. “Our students have put in eight to 12 hours a week after school since we started and have been willing to come in on holiday breaks and Saturdays to work on the robot. This has truly been a team effort.”

In mid-October the school started preparing for their third match at the tournament, a month behind other schools.

“Some of these teams we are competing against have been around for 10 to 15 years,” said Shawler.

Though East Jackson is a rookie team, they finished first in their league at the last competition.

During each match the students evaluated and improved their design.

“The arm function was the most challenging,” said Jada Pollard, ninth grader at EJCHS. “The hand didn’t grip well so we had to add some different attachments.”

The team said the competition was nerve wracking, but it wasn’t as bad as what they had predicted it would be.

EJCHS finished sixth overall in the competition after all the qualifiers, two spots out of the top four. Despite having the two highest scores of the day, the team was not picked by the top four during the playoffs.

“This is not how we wanted to end our season,” said Shawler.

“All of our hard work has paid off even though we didn’t qualify for finals,” said Pollard. “We wish good luck to everyone who carries on into the finals.”

The East Jackson team hopes to reach out to their middle school and West Jackson’s First Tech Challenge (FTC) program to get involved in robotics. They are also looking forward to including a summer camp in the spring for area students to learn and get started with robotics at their schools.

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