Editor's note: This article has been corrected from its original verison.
MOULTRIE, Ga. — Colquitt County High School in the past year has launched two new programs that pit Packers against other schools in high-tech competitions, the eSports team and the robotics team.
The eSports team reached the state playoffs last month, and the robotics team is now gearing up for state competition after placing third in the region.
The CCHS Robotics team is spearheaded by science teacher Vance Hurst, whose rambunctious bunch of students make the team work.
Hurst had considered starting a robotics team for a few years because he wanted to see more academic extracurricular activities added to the school. Then one day he saw that Colquitt Regional Medical Center was offering a grant; he applied, got the grant and secured funding for the robotics team.
The team started up in September 2018 with a relatively small group of students that included Ian Small, Katherine Monroy, Seth Snipes, Kahmin Keller, Pierre Palms, Abby Baker, and Cynthia Quiroz. Once it was time to compete, though, they rose to the occasion.
Together they have built a functioning robot, which looked impressive in their competitions. They took third overall in the region, and in their most recent competition they scored second place and took home a trophy for most innovative robot.
Competitions usually involve the functionality of the robot — what it can do and how quickly it can do it. It’s controlled by two people: One person drives it while the other controls the arm, which was an early obstacle they had to get over.
Before the season started, no one on the team had experience with coding, Hurst said; it was something they all had to learn together.
“Getting the robot’s arm to work and learning to write the code probably had to be the most difficult thing we had to go through this year,” Hurst said. “Nobody here knew how to write code here, to begin with. We have been through three to four iterations of the arm, and through that process we taught them the engineering process where you come up with a plan, sketch it out on the board, build it, test it, see if it works, see what doesn't work and if it doesn't work start over again.”
Right now the team is focusing on getting ready for the statewide competition. Half of the team will graduate this year, so this is their last time competing under Hurst.
Graduating senior Abby Baker reflected on her time with the team and the bonds she has established.
“I really like all the people,” Baker said. “We have a lot of fun here. I’m not a mechanically inclined person — I try to be but I'm really not — so it helps to be around a like-minded group of people.”