Caddo Middle Magnet wins Robotics competition


A team from Caddo Middle Magnet School won first place in the Robotics Competition at Northwestern State University Wednesday. Broadmoor Middle Lab placed second and Donnie Bickham Middle School placed in the competition, which was sponsored by the Department of Engineering Technology.  Ninety-one students on 22 teams from middle schools within a 100-mile radius of Natchitoches participated in the competition that included speed, strength, accuracy and a new category, maze challenges.

“Our Fall competition, NSU-RC2 went very well,” said Dr. Jafar Al-Sharab, professor of engineering technology and organizer of the competition. “The number of participating students has tripled since our last competition.  This is a clear evidence of the the continuous interest in our competition.”

In addition to middle schoolers, a team from Keithville Elementary participated in the competition and a team from Southwood High School offered a demonstration on their advanced robot, which is designed to breach defenses, pick up and throw a ball and spin in 360-degree circles.

The competition was divided into categories including: Pulling scale to see how much weight the robots could drag, a maze which robots weren’t allowed to touch the sides of, an accuracy board where robots had to pick up and deposit balls at designated positions, a speed trial to see how fast the robots could go without crossing a 15-foot marker and a tug of war final. Points were tabulated at the end to determine the winners. The competition is intended to generate interest in studies related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“I was impressed today by the continuing improvement of the schools who participate in the competitions,” said Curtis Desselles, an instructor in the Department of Engineering Technology who helped judge the competition.

Janet Melancon and her husband Flynn Dulle returned for their second year competing in the competition. Flynn is a robotics teacher at Caddo Middle Magnet and Janet teaches at Broadmoor Middle Lab. Janet brought six of her students to compete and Flynn brought 19.

“The kids like the opportunity to travel,” said Janet. “I like it because it’s not what we normally do. The competition at NSU allows the kids more freedom with their robots. It lets them think outside the box.”

Sharab said there will be a spring competition in 2017 with a date to be determined.

The event was being sponsored in partnership with the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce Education Fund.