Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) hosted its first annual robotics competition at the school's new Hutton Gymnasium in Highland Park on Saturday. 

The event was sponsored by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and marked the first VEX robotics tournament in East Tennessee. 

Ten schools throughout the Tennessee Valley competed, including: Brentwood Academy in Nashville; Liberty Technology Magnet High School in Jackson; Johnson County Middle School and Johnson County High School in Mountain City; Soddy Daisy High School; Grundy County High School and Grundy County in Tracy City; Franklin Road Academy in Nashville; and Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School in Nashville.

Andrew Meador, an 8th grade science teacher at CGLA, said he hopes the competition sparks interest in more students. 

"We're trying to establish CGLA as a STEM hub in Chattanooga and this helps us spark interest in the other schools to start robotics competitions, but also it's a great investment for us to show our girls that we're committed to giving them an education that's focused on science, technology, engineering and math."

It's all centers around VEX robotics, an educational system designed to encourage students in stem fundamentals and computer science concepts.The   VEX platform engages students in activities that spark creativity and enhance the development of collaboration communication, project management and critical thinking skills.         
Brentwood Academy junior, Sierra Sarlo said joining the robotics team was the best thing that's happened to her this school year.  

"I love that everything has to work and eventually everything is going to work out," Sarlo said. "It helps to think things through and it helps with logic. It makes people actually think and not just do things without thinking."

Joana Gonzalss, a 9th grader at CGLA said she feels the same way. She's grown to love it since watching her older sister compete. 

"It inspired me because not only is it interesting to see how the robot did it but also the fun, fun to actually build it, learn how to program, learn new things," said Gonzalss. 

Though she and her fellow CGLA teammates are didn't compete Saturday, she's looking forward to making her mark in the next competition.

"I'm like happy and nervous at the same time. Happy because we get to drive a robot, and make it go through a course and a challenge, but nervous because what if something goes wrong."

CGLA's robotic team will compete in their first VEX competition next month in Dandridge, TN.