A team of West Feliciana Middle School robotics students finished third at the Regional Autonomous Robotics Competition at Catholic High School on Nov. 5.

The team of Ella Corinne Howle, Bryce Jarrell, Charles Fox-Smith, Blaine Hord and Thy Hong placed third among seven middle school teams at the first Regional Autonomous Robotics Competition event of the school year.

The theme for the event was “Energy: Powering the Future,” and all of the teams had to preprogram their robots to complete a series of challenges.

The students have been working after school and at lunch for a month perfecting their programming skills. Science, technology, engineering and math teacher Heather Howle said many of the programmers are new to the system. 

“I’m very proud of them, it was a very difficult competition,” said Howle, who teaches robotics classes at the school. “It was a high-stress situation for students at any age, and I’m proud of the way we performed in the scenario. It was impressive.”

Howle’s classroom has adopted a Harry Potter theme this year: “Howle’s School of Robotics and Engineering” and teams of students are divided into houses like in the popular books.

They learn complex programming solutions for the robots, which are designed to complete various tasks and mazes. Each spring, the students also compete in a popular “Sumobot” competition at the school for prizes and bragging rights.

The team also competed in a recent Junior Beta Club competition but didn’t place. Beside the Sumobot competition in February, there will be RARC II in March and RARC III in late April. Last year, West Feliciana Middle teams did extremely well, winning and placing in a number of events.

“Our trophy cabinet is getting pretty full,” said Howle. “But we have room for more.”

Teams from Catholic High finished first and second in the middle school division at the recent event.