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Robots and rotary: These Forsyth County students showed off their skills before heading to a world competition
Otwell Middle Robotics teams 2023
Otwell Middle School students control their robots on a grid during a demonstration at the FoCAL Center on March 16, 2023. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Otwell Middle School’s top robotics teams showed off their robots to the Rotary Club of Forsyth during a demonstration at the FoCAL Center on Thursday, March 16.

The teams will be competing with their creations at the 2023 VEX World Championship.

Tony Collins, engineering teacher and robotics coach, told the club that each competition is based on teamwork. The students must work together using their robots to collect orange discs from structures on a grid and move those discs to score as many points as possible.

And he said these kids do just that.

The robotics teams have been established at Otwell Middle for eight years, and over that time, Collins said they have won several competitions and gone to the World Championship multiple times.

Now, he’s excited to bring his students to Dallas, Texas for this year’s international competition.

The kids practiced for the big event during the demonstration on Thursday by setting up a grid much like the one found at robotics competitions.

“How the game works is you have to build a robot to collect these discs and then figure out a way to shoot them into these different zones,” one student said, pointing at the grid.

As they controlled the robot with a remote, it used spinners to knock discs from structures on the grid and then spit them out onto the other side where they could collect points. Where discs land on the grid determines how many points they earn.

In another part of the competition, students must program their robots to run autonomously and collect discs on their own.

After past competitions, the students said they have been working to fix design flaws in their robots. They brought past and current models of their design to the meeting to show changes that improved their performance on the grid.

“One of the design flaws that they’ve been battling all year is when the pucks drop, sometimes they drop sideways,” Collins said.

So now, their No. 1 mission is to design a new model before heading to the world competition in May, where they will compete against 800 other teams of middle school students. 

Otwell Middle Robotics teams 2023
A robot shoots discs across the grid to earn points during a demonstration on March 16 for the Rotary Club of Forsyth. - photo by Sabrina Kerns