'Red Stick Rumble': Local students participate in multi-state robotics competition

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POSTED: Saturday, August 30, 2014 - 10:58am

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 4:28pm

A lot of people are on vacation this Labor Day weekend, but dozens of local teens were hard at work. However, their work involves something a little different... like creating robots!

Katelyn Holmes loves science and wants to be a mechanical engineer. That is why she joined the Woodlawn Panther Robotics Team.

"There's just a different type of passion here that I just love and the energy and the excitement," Holmes said. "I think it's unique because no matter what you do, like what your talent is, your skill, or what you like, there's always a place for you on the team."

Now, to some people it may look like these students are just playing with robots, but Woodlawn Robotics Coach Daniel Eiland said it's so much more than that.

"So what they do is they get the game, and depending on what program you're in, you have a certain amount of time to build your robot," Eiland explained.

Students usually have six weeks to build and create their own robots, all from scratch.

"We have the First Robotics Competition. That's the 120-pound robots in the giant field. We also have behind me the FTC competition, the First Tech Challenge," Eiland said.

Hundreds of students came to Woodlawn High School to show off their hard work. It's part of it's second annual Red Stick Rumble Robotics Competition. There are more than 20 teams from all over Louisiana and surrounding states, including Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.

Scott Stevens is the principal here at Woodlawn, and this is his first time attending a robotics competition, but he wasn't expecting all of this.

"There's lights going. It looked like a field in the gym, and I just thought this is a lot more than I expected," Stevens said. "We have this many kids involved in something like this one this kind of stage just kind of blows my mind in a sense."

Stevens and Eiland both agree even though this is a competition, it's more about the experience.

"We have a lot of kids who aren't really into sports, but they want to get into engineering, and they want to do something like this. It was more about I wanted to promote something for these kids to do that they can get involved in," Stevens said.

"What this provides overall is a way for kids to connect with what's going on in their world because they're not working on small insignificant projects," Eiland said. "They're building these large style robots that use the same technology they use in NASA and a lot of other fields."

Eiland said the competition is just a little fun event during the off-season. Robotics season starts in January and goes through May.

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