20 Aug 2014
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Meet Whiz Kid: J.T. Herndon

Understanding of math and science ignites student's fascination with robotics.

Meet Whiz Kid: J.T. Herndon Meet Whiz Kid: J.T. Herndon

Name: J.T.  Herndon

Age: 15


Accomplishments:  This student’s aptitude for science earned him a nomination for the Georgia Governor’s Honor Program last month. He also excels in mathematics and physics and is a member of the National Honor Society.

“Mathematics really fits the way I think,” said J.T. “It’s easy to visualize.” 

At age seven, J.T. began creating origami sculptures, an art often used to teach geometry concepts as well as other mathematic principles. He also learned the art of kiragmi, (cutting and folding) paper where he learned how to make unique three-dimensional pop-up designs. By age 11, he had taught himself how to solve Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes.

During his freshman year he applied his knowledge of technology and science in the First Tech Challenge, a mid-level robotics competition in which he and his teammates designed a robot that made it to the state qualifier at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta.

Each year the FTC challenge is different, but games are typically staged on a 12-foot-by-12-foot square field covered in carpet. The game is played by two alliances of teams for a total of four robots on the field each match. Robots cannot exceed 18 inches in height, width or length and teams are required to create an “Engineering Notebook’ to document their building and competing experiences.

This year’s FTC challenge “Bowled Over” requires robots to outscore opponents by placing racquet balls in crates and then stacking the crates within a specified time frame and moving a six-pound bowling ball to different places on the competition field. 

“We’re still designing our robot,” said J.T.  “We’re making decisions about how it’s going to move and thinking about the last 30 seconds in the competition.”

“Interest in the program has really grown this year,” said Bob Herndon, his dad and one of the team coaches. “This year we have three teams from Decatur.” The first FTC match will be in mid-November and the second in December.

J.T. also has a great love of music and began taking classical piano lessons in first grade.  He sang with the Young Singers of Callanwolde in the fifth grade where he learned to read music and music theory and began playing the saxophone. Currently he plays in the Decatur High School marching band, the wind ensemble and a jazz combo. 

“His mom Emily and I are very proud of J.T.,” said Bob.  “We love him and love his creativity, musical talents and sense of humor.” 



















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