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BA robotics program excelling


There are many times this year that we have been proud to be Bulloch Academy parents ... state basketball champs, archery competitors on the state and national level, state literary winners, Christian Leadership Program participating members, AP scholars, etc., but at no time were we smiling bigger, than recently at the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando, Fla.

In only our third year in competing in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition, the Bulloch Academy "Redneck Robotics" team has quickly improved to be one of the standouts in the crowd. In 2012, we became the "rookie" team of the year, placing eighth out of 64 teams. In 2013, we made it to the finals as a captain's pick. But in 2014, after all 10 preliminary matches, the Redneck Robotics team was a solid sixth place and even held the No. 1 position for a time. By finishing in the top eight, the BA team garnered a captain's position and was allowed the honor to pick our own two teammates for the finals. After easily winning in the quarterfinals, we lost two close matches in the semifinals to finish tied for third in the team competition. In addition to the excellent individual and team standings, the Rednecks also won the Creativity Award for most creative robot design!

It's hard to believe just nine weeks ago there were only a bag or parts and some ideas. Thanks to our fantastic teacher sponsor, Karen Whitten, those thoughts and gears came together with great success. In addition, the BA squad is also blessed with two great mentors, Jonathan Whitten and James Boring, both with Brodie Meter, that give us great guidance and encouragement. Our Georgia Southern student mentor, Christopher Wilson was also always there to lend a helping hand.

Furthermore, the team was not only able to build a robot that could pick up and throw large yoga-type balls competitively, they were also able to build a business. The students cleaned cars, sold snacks at school, participated with local restaurants for cash, as well as shaking the trees of local businesses and organizations to help them finance this costly undertaking. Our robot was built for around $13,000 ... considered one of the smallest budgets in the field.

This learning experience wouldn't be possible without the help of many businesses and organizations. Our Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors were: Cope Eye Clinic of Statesboro, Donnie Catrabone, Southern OBGYN, Brodie of Statesboro, Yuhong Zhang, Rotary Club of Downtown Statesboro, Homebuilders Association of Statesboro, Isabella's Restaurant, Max Manack, Aimtrac "CASE" of Brooklet, Blanchard Equipment of Statesboro, Daniel Defense, Nesmith Construction, ASME, the Rotary Club of Statesboro, CMC Construction, Loco's Restaurant of Statesboro, Chris Akins, Wells Fargo, Willingway, Blitch Place Farms, LA Waters, Lamar Construction, the Padilla family, the Chand family and the Vickers family.

Thankfully, they see the necessity of teaching kids about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The hands-on experience that the entire team of 14 learned could never be taught in a classroom. This was a real world experience.

To see some great videos and pictures from our trip and competition, please go to, and I'm sure you will be as excited as the students are!

We are so thankful to be able to attend a small school that has a big heart toward all aspects of academia (literary, sciences, sports, music, drama, etc.) in a Christian atmosphere. The robotics competition was just "icing on the cake."

Proud parents,
Keely and Bo Fennell


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