Demopolis Middle impresses at robotics competition

Published 7:20 pm Friday, December 13, 2013

The Demopolis Middle School Robotics team did not bring home any team awards from the regional competition, but they did make an impression on the judges.

The DMS team traveled to Auburn last weekend to compete in the South’s BEST Regional Robotics Championship and finished 26th out of 56 teams. The competition featured teams from six states across the Southeast, and DMS was one of few middle school teams at the competition. This was also the first year that DMS has had a robotics team.

“The size of the competition really blew our students away,” DMS robotics teacher Ashley Brock said. “It was much stiffer competition, since it was teams from six states, but our students really worked hard. We were 15th at one point, so we were really able to hang around with some more experience high school teams.”

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Brock said the students made an impression on judges and other teachers while they were at the competition as well.

“I had a couple of other teacher leaders come to me to let me know that they toured every booth in the arena and that our students were the only students that initiated conversation with them and invited them in to see our booth display,” Brock said.

Brock brought home an individual award from the competition, the Briggs and Stratton South’s BEST Teacher of the Year Award.

“Winning the award just means I need to go back and make improvements and try to make us better for next year,” she said. “Just like a coach of a sport, I’m already thinking about how to be better next year.”

Three teacher of the year awards are given out at the competition, and Sweet Water High School’s Kevin Byrd also brought home the award. Sweet Water’s team finished 30th overall in the competition.

“The community has been a huge help to us throughout the year,” Brock said. “We couldn’t have been so successful in our first year without the mentors, the grant foundation and the parents. They were all key to our first-year success.”

Brock said that while there is not currently a robotics team at Demopolis High School, she is looking into a way to keep the students involved through high school.

“I’m not sure of the logistics yet, but I want these eighth-graders to be able to continue doing this through high school,” she said. “A lot of the teams had students that have been doing robotics for five or more years, and when our eighth-graders become seniors, they would be at that point as well.”