WATSON -- University of Louisiana-Monroe sophomore Lilah Thibodeaux stopped the robotics students and their parents just before they walked out of the Live Oak High School cafeteria, which would signal the end of the week-long camp.

“I just want to say that this is the best and smartest group we’ve had all summer,” Thibodeaux said. “We had to keep coming up with new things because they learned it all so fast.”

After witnessing their children’s end-of-the-week robotics competition, the parents didn’t doubt her.

Red Sticks Robotics in Baton Rouge put on a week-long robotics camp for junior high and high school students at Live Oak High School last week, culminating in a four-team competition on Friday, July 14.

Thibodeaux and fellow ULM student Nirjala Parajuli, both computer science students, spent July 10-14 teaching a class of the 13 rising seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th graders from both Live Oak Middle and Live Oak High from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day.

Unlike Parajuli and Thibodeaux’s three-day camp, in which they supply students with already-built robots and just teach them the programming, the Live Oak students in last week’s class built and programmed the four robots “from scratch.”

And they picked it up pretty fast, according to the two interns.

“This was probably the fastest camp we’ve had all summer,” Parajuli said. “It was not even four hours on the first day, and the robots were completely done. We were amazed that they were doing it so much.”

“Each group has kids who are good at their own things,” Parajuli continued. “One may be good at programming, one may be good at building robots, one may be good at controlling the robot. They all have their own little tasks.”

The week concluded with an hour-long robotics competition between the four different groups:

Skynet, made up of Gage Cartwright, Brian Wylie and Matthew Desrosiers; Code Killer, made up of Raiden Bragg, Cael Delafosse and Christian Hall; Broken, made up of Grant Wilson, Alex Tryon, Jacob Austin and Cooper Miller; and Popsicle, made up of Henry Lawrence, Robert Lawrence and Theresa LeMoine, who missed the competition.

Parajuli and Thibodeaux arranged an obstacle course in the Live Oak cafeteria using 24 small cones and four large ones.

The competition was broken into five two-minute rounds and one three-minute round in which students had to bring as many cones to their side using only the robots. Extra points were given for the large cones and stacked cones.

Each team competed five times before the groups Popsicles and Skynet squared off in a three-minute finale to determine the day’s winner.

With 10th grader Henry Lawrence watching as eighth grader Robert Lawrence controlled the robot, the Popsicles finished with just one more cone than Skynet, giving the brothers the victory. They received medals after the competition.

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