Robotics Team 5327 shows off talent

By Lucas Vance lvance@civitasmedia.com

April 3, 2014

WINNSBORO — Fairfield Central High School’s robotics team was recently recognized at a county council meeting for its success during a regional tournament in Myrtle Beach.

Team 5327 presented their robot — Baby Griffin — to council and delivered a small demonstration.

Team member Paige Burnett headed the controls as Baby Griffin showed off its ability to functionally pick up objects.

The Fairfield Central Griffin Robotics Team was being recognized for placing 14th out of 67 teams and winning the “Rookie Award” as the competition’s top-ranked first-year contender at regional tournament in Myrtle Beach last month.

Fairfield Central’s squad competed in all nine matches and finished with a 6-3 record, which included no disqualifications.

Team 5327 wrote a grant through NASA to fund the Robotics program.

Fairfield Central finished higher than any other Midlands school and Superintendent J.R. Green was elated to spread the news.

“We were really competitive in our first year,” he noted. “I’m so very proud of these students and how they just jumped right into the competition.”

At one time, Team 5327 ranked as high as sixth.

Building their robot from scratch, Team 5327 is made up of nearly 30 members. Despite the recent snow days that held them from preparing, the team did their best to convince Green to allow them to still attend school to prepare for the Myrtle Beach competition.

“Although we could not allow them to come to school in those conditions, I appreciate their enthusiasm and there commitment to win,” Green said.

According to Green, the success of the robotics team’s first attempt shows the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum’s affect on student’s development.

Team 5327’s performance at Myrtle Beach was good enough to earn a spot a regional competition in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. April 3 through April 5.

Green made a recommendation to the school board to help fund the robotics team’s trip.

“I will continue to make recommendations to support the students of Fairfield County,” Green insisted.

Green recommended the board approve $14,200 to help fund the overnight trip.

The board unanimously approved the recommendation 6-0. Vice Chairwoman Andrea Harrison was absent due to an illness.

Team 5327 member Michael Urias believes his team will do well enough to earn a trip to the national competition.

“I’d like to recognize my team members and a special thanks to our superintendent J.R. Green and principal Tracie Swilly,” he said during the March 24 presentation in council chambers.

Fairfield Central High School student Paige Burnett controlled the robot through a remote and directed it to pick up an object and then placed it at another location.

After each round of competition, the team is given an opportunity to repair or modify its robot to perform better.

The competition will place the robot in an arena with opposing robots that will attempt to prevent the robot from scoring.

Team 5327 has added a piece that will allow the robot to catapult an object through a raised goal to earn additional points.

“We feel those adjustments will help the team in Florida,” Fairfield Central High School principal Tracie Swilly stated. “These students have given up weekends in order to work on the robot and prepare. In their inaugural year, they have really made us proud. We want to thank county council for allowing us to come here tonight and showcase our youth’s talent. Our youth are truly our future and we ask that you root us on as we go to Florida for competition.”