Huddled around laptops and spare pieces of paper scribbled with notes, students ages 8 to 18 gathered in the halls and classrooms of Whitlow Elementary School.
Some groups stood before judges, demonstrating how to use mobile apps, graphics or robots they created for the 2018 Regional Technology Competition while others waited in line to prove why their design was the best.
While the scene resembled a school day, this was a Saturday, and the participants, which made up more than 250 teams from Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties, served as teachers as much as they did students.
“This is a qualifier for the state competition that is held in March, so we always have a very, very high participation rate,” said Technology Competition Director Vickie Sexton. “The kids compete in 16 categories in various age groups, from third grade to 12th grade and it’s open to all students, not just public school students.”
Categories ranged from typical technology projects such as 3D modeling, animation and robotics to graphic design, productivity design and technology literacy.
The event bought more than 100 volunteers and dozens of parents and teachers to Whitlow on Saturday morning, Sexton said.
“The competition was only student works; we did not allow any involvement by parents and they all had to be original projects,” she said. “We really [saw] some fabulous stuff and had judge teams of two to three adults ranging from teachers to business partners to community leaders.”
In total, about 50 judges worked with the students, who were required to present an explanation of their work in addition to proving its success and necessity.
“The competition really shows the importance of technology in our schools and county and it’s really supportive for the students so they can take that [project] to the next level [and be] leaders,” Sexton said. “Part of the competition is they have to explain what it is they’ve done, the steps they’ve taken and the scientific process of how they came to [create] the project. They also had to explain how they failed and how they had to start again [if they failed] and it’s just a great opportunity to voice that and I think it’s all very exciting for them.”
Adam McMakin and Philip Kim, Lambert High School seniors who came in first place in digital game design, said it was “a fun event.”
“We had probably worked harder on our [video game] than we have in a lot of other competitions so it [paid off,]” McMakin said.
“Adam is the artist and I’m the programmer so we just came together to make it happen,” added Kim.
The teens said while the process of creating the video game was enjoyable, it was seeing how it all worked out correctly in the end that made the hours of work most worth it.
“It was nice to see everything come together and fitting all the little jokes and stuff into the dialogue of the game,” McMakin said. “We qualify for the state competition but we don’t know if we’ll have time because we’re planning on doing the Technology Student Association’s state competition, so we’ll see.”