Hardin Valley Academy robotics team going to world championship

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – We all know how important it is for our kids to learn math and science. One local group of high schoolers is taking that to the next level. They’re headed to the world championship of robotics next month.

The Hardin Valley Academy team, the HVA RoHAWKtics, won the Palmetto Regional FIRST Robotics Competition last month in Myrtle Beach. That earned them an invite to the world championship in St. Louis next month.

“I’m really excited. It’s my senior year on the team and we get to go to a world competition with brilliant minds from all over the world,” said senior Rachel Offutt.

There are twice as many guys as girls on the team right now, but Offutt is glad to see that’s changing.

“I would encourage all girls to be their best. If they’re interested in math and science and STEM careers, go for it,” she said.

This year’s competition has a recycling theme. The Hardin Valley robot was created with a 3D printer after several tries.

“We made the first two and saw what was wrong with them and then kept designing from that,” said senior Michael Goins.

Their coach, Hardin Valley physics teacher John Tilson, says STEM curriculum is very important, but the group is learning other skills too.

“The robotics team is not really about the robot. That’s our mode of communicating, but we’re also doing marketing, media, public speaking,” he said.

He says former team members are going on to great things.

“They are out their working already. They’re getting job offers. They’re getting offices. They’re not even in grad school yet,” Tilson said.

You can see the team and their robot in action the first week in April at the Smoky Mountains Regional Competition at the Knoxville Convention Center.

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