JASPER — Jasper High School’s Senior Robotics Team competed against 30 other Arkansas high school teams on Saturday, Nov. 2, in the BEST Robotics contest in Little Rock, and returned home with two victories. They won second place in Spirit and Sportsmanship and fourth place in overall performance.

“Our robotics success is because of the passion, hard work, and dedication of our students,” Jasper High School science teacher and Robotics Team sponsor Jeff Ayers said. “The team has evolved a lot in a short period of time. The evolution during the past two years has been amazing.”

Senior Emily Burnett explained their robot’s task: “Our robot moved around and picked up boxes (models of transformers) and set them down in their places.” Ayers added that there were a variety of options available to the team to restore the power grid, but their team chose to focus on moving transformers back to their designated positions.

The theme of the contest was “Off the Grid,” and Jasper High’s team consisted of 19 students.

“We competed against several prestigious schools, including science and engineering academies,” Ayers said. “The head judge at the competition told us that our exhibit booth was superior to all others.”

Ayers noted that there were multiple facets to the competition beyond just the robot’s performance. Their Science and Engineering notebook, the highest scoring component of the competition, placed sixth out of the 31 teams in the field.

Tabitha Kolb, fellow science teacher and robotics sponsor, was thrilled with the success of the team. “The team did a phenomenal job, and we are so very proud of them,” she said. “Robotics is a worthwhile activity in that the students learn problem-solving skills, how to collaborate, teamwork, and many other invaluable skills that will follow them throughout high school and beyond. The team demonstrated those skills. We look forward to more competitions with this group and the junior high team that began just last year.”

One of Ayers’ proudest moments was when the team won second place in Spirit and Sportsmanship. “Winning second place in Spirit and Sportsmanship with only 19 kids doing all the cheering was a major accomplishment,” he said. “Our students cheered not only for Jasper, but cheered for the teams we competed against.”

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