Columbia Christian robotics team makes deep run in regional competition

The robotics team at Columbia Christian School in Magnolia, Ark., advanced to a multi-state regional competition, during which they made it to the wild-card round, after placing second in the Robot Game Field Competition and fourth overall at BEST in Little Rock, Ark. The Regional Texas BEST Competition in Frisco, Texas, began in early December.

Columbia Christian School robotics team competes in Little Rock, Ark. (via Facebook).

The competition is part of the BEST Robotics network, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that hosts Robotics competitions at no cost to participating schools. They exist to inspire students to “pursue careers in engineering, science, technology, and mathematics through robotics design…”. The robotics competition happens each fall and includes a national total of around 18,000 students representing about 850 Middle and High Schools.

Columbia robotics teacher, Victoria Allison, spoke with The Lion just days before the regional competition, which pitted them against 74 other teams, most of them from public schools. She explained that, though the school had participated in BEST before, this year’s team was the first to receive an invitation to the competition explicitly based on their robot’s performance. Columbia’s robotics program is less than five years old.

The team is given six weeks to construct their robot, according to Allison, along with creating a business plan and marketing plan for the robot. The robot’s performance and its display exhibit are both factored into the overall evaluation, as is a student notebook, a record of decisions made including materials used, how the robot progresses, etc.

Allison spoke with pride about how this “little school from Magnolia Arkansas” has competed against larger schools with more resources. Much of their competition has more opportunities to work on their robot, along with commodities like 3D printers. This hasn’t deterred the team one bit, with their robot even edging out a nationally ranked, STEM-focused school. It is an impressive feat, especially considering two team members also play for the basketball team. Allison explained that those two boys drove down to the competition following a game. 

Allison describes her school, Columbia Christian, as multifaceted, offering as many and sometimes more opportunities than their larger counterparts. The school even features the number one archer in the whole state of Arkansas. Allison has worked for the school for sixteen years, and she explained that in recent years they have truly doubled down on their standards of education and offerings.

When asked what sets CCS apart from other schools, Allison plainly said, “We’re old school, plus having such a low teacher-to-student ratio really makes a difference.” In addition, she remarked about their ability to teach kids face-to-face and devote more time to each child without many of the constraints you might see in other schools. Though they are ‘old school’, their success in cutting-edge programs seems to speak for itself.  

Columbia Christian School was founded in 1998. Their mission is to: “Prepare students academically, spiritually, and physically to successfully influence the world with truth by understanding the importance of a personal relationship with God.” They currently have an enrollment of just over 200 students who experience cutting-edge curriculum from well-educated faculty and 21st Century classrooms.