Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary Wins National Beta Club Robotics Competition in School’s Final Year

  • Posted 4/19/2024

    Bethune Robotics

    When Mary M. Bethune Elementary fifth grader Christian Davenport took the controls of his team's robot Orange Phoenix at the National Beta Club robotics competition, he was confident.

    "I knew I was going to do good," Davenport said. "I'm good at controlling things."

    The Bethune robotics team named, built and operated their robot, Orange Phoenix, as they closely followed guidelines of the National Beta Club state competition. They were coached by Schuyler Hollis, FCS School Improvement Coach-Mathematics.

    Early on Coach Hollis communicated to the team what it took to win the robotics competition at the state level. The team was required to design, program, construct and implement their robot. They wrote a story about their robot, who they named Orange Phoenix, and programmed him to sort, move and stack in a 12' X 12' competition space in two minutes.

    "The team wrote a story about Mary McLeod Bethune," Hollis said. "A storm came through and destroyed Ms. Bethune's home and moved items around on her property. Orange Phoenix moved and stacked the items that were scattered around her yard and sorted them into the recycling bin."

    Once they decided on the story, team members built the robot, programmed it and started practicing how they would present in the competition.

    "The goal was to have them go through the entire performance," Hollis said. "They read the story, showed how the robot was built, and controlled the robot. We practiced six straight weeks before the competition. They had to execute all three movements---sort, move and stack skillfully."

    Practicing paid off.

    "It was actually easy controlling Orange Phoenix at the competition because I had practiced," Davenport said.

    Bethune Elementary had another goal in mind as they competed for the sixth year in the National Beta Club state convention with their robotics team. They wanted to bring home a plaque in their final year of competition.

    "Unfortunately, we won't be able to keep our winning streak alive," Hollis said. "Bethune Elementary will close in 2024."

    Hollis, who attended Bethune Elementary as a child and later graduated from Westlake High School, is a product of Fulton County Schools (FCS).

    "Initially, we started out in 2016 doing robotics as a fun extra activity after school with the science club," Hollis said. "In 2017 we won first place in the state competition."

    Word spread about the winning program and soon Tierra Bagby, Junior Beta Club sponsor, contacted Hollis to get involved.

    "Seeing the Bethune robotics team emerge victorious is a testament to their hard work and dedication," Bagby said.

    Robotics team members Leylani Castaneda-Pacheco, Christian Davenport, Nicholas Johnson, Kameron King, Delano Levy, Jace Tanksley, and Tristen White comprised the winning team.

    "Winning brought me a lot of joy," said Davenport. "When I went up to the stage to get the plaque, my team cheered for me."

    Bethune's state champion robotics team is grateful for the opportunity to achieve one more win. Nationals are in July in Savannah, Ga. and they hope to compete for the national title.

    "I was confident from the beginning that we were going to win," Davenport said. "Everyone played their part."




    Schuyler Hollis, Robotics Team Coach and Tierra Bagby, Junior Beta Club Sponsor.