Last year, Happy Valley Middle School teacher Mike Dorsey saw the school’s students build robots that were so good they consistently beat high school teams in the VEX Robotics regional competition. The were good enough to win the VEX Robotics Tennessee championship for middle schools. The Warrior team then made it to the world championship.
“By my calculations, we finished 122nd out of 11,000 entries from all over the world,” Dorsey said.
The Happy Valley competitors learned a lot about robots, competition and about people from other parts of the world. “They had a team from Russia on one side of them and a team from Hong Kong on their other side.”
After being together and competing together for the past two years, many of the team members have left the middle school and are now freshmen next door at Happy Valley High School. Quick to take advantage of this talent, the high school has started its own robotics program, and Dorsey was brought over to teach an 8 a.m. class at the high school.
In addition to the students he taught last year, there are enough other interested freshmen, sophomores and juniors to comprise three robot teams. The rest of the day he spends at the middle school, where he has five robotic teams, as well as serving as the boys basketball coach.
“It sounded interesting,” freshman Charley Calixto said of her joining the high school’s first robotics team. Indigo Payeur said this is his first year on the team, but he has had an interest since the sixth grade.
It is still early in the season and the teams are just beginning to study the rule changes and assemble as much of their robots as they can, since they don’t have all the parts yet.
The team does not have a lot of time to get ready. The first regional competition is Nov. 17 at Johnson County. He said there are other regional qualifiers at Holston and at Clinton.