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Robotics competition enthralls Bastrop County students

By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

The future of science appears to be in good hands judging by the number of Bastrop and Smithville ISD students participating in a challenging robotics competition program. At an open house at the Bastrop Convention Center on December 11, the public got to see the innovation and commitment of students participating in robotics.

Bastrop High School student Nathan Petrie works with a robot. (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

Bastrop High School sophomore Nathan Petrie is an example of the enthusiasm of students involved with the program. “Robotics and the designs and teamwork involved challenges our minds and prepares us for our future, while having fun with robotics,” Petrie said as he demonstrated a robot with the help of teammates.

Bastrop Middle School teacher Erin Land said robotics is definitely in demand among younger students, as well as at the high school. “I teach six class periods of robotics. I have huge classes,” Land said, adding approximately 140-150 students are enrolled in classes. “It’s great to get them out on the floor and creating (with robotics). This teaches students to take risks, to try things without being certain of getting the right answers at first.”

Cedar Creek Junior High School robotics team members Emily Svetlik and Amelia Lewey. (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

Will Holcomb is a member of the Lost Pines High Tech Consortium, which encourages students to participate in such programs as robotics. “One of our goals is promotion of hi-tech (learning) in schools,” Holcomb said. “We have about a half dozen of our group out here tonight. We are a networking group of people in the Bastrop County area.” Holcomb said he was thrilled by the strong participation of Bastrop County students in the robotics program, and added, “I am also thrilled to see the number of young women participating out here tonight.”

Smithville ISD students were also participating in the open house and gave outstanding displays of their robotics knowledge as part of the Tiger Trons competition team.

Smithville Tiger Trons Robotics Team (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

“Engaging our students with industry to showcase the skills our students have is so beneficial to the future of our workforce. We hope to continue this and engage other career paths and industries in the coming year”, said Jean Riemenschneider, who heads up the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation’s education and workforce program.

Chris Shaw, a BMS eighth-grade student, said he encourages other students to get involved in robotics. “You’re working with computers and programming and it’s a lot of fun. I encourage students to just take the course and see if they like it.”