CHAMPION - Waiting in the wings of the Champion High School auditorium, 2013 Miss Ohio winner Heather Wells straightened her crown as she prepared to take the stage during Friday night's fourth annual "Are you smarter than a robotics student?" fundraiser.
Wells would be squaring off against Champion's FIRST robotics team, "The Lightning Bots," in a friendly battle of wits, with topics ranging from math and history to popular culture and music.
"I have to admit, I'm slightly nervous," Wells laughed. "I didn't study, but maybe I should have. But, as long as there is no long division or something, I think I'll be OK."
Wells, a 2007 Howland High School graduate, was the event's special guest contestant, along with local news reporter Derek Steyer.
"I do a lot of traveling around the whole state," Wells said. "So, it's really awesome to be back to the hometown area. It's just special to me."
Champion student and robotics team member Jacob Boyd said the group looks forward to the contest each year.
"We've been preparing for it," Boyd said. "We've been working for weeks on this. It's the biggest publicity event, probably of the whole year."
Boyd's brother, Josh, also a team member, was taking part in the event for the first time.
"Yeah, I'm a little nervous," he admitted. "I'm hoping for a lot of science and math, because those are my best subjects."
In the end, both the students and the contestants flexed their respective intellectual muscles in front of a large crowd, with the proceeds funding spring trips to Chicago and Cleveland for the robotics team.
Some of the questions asked of contestants and students included, "Who was the 16th president of the United States?"
Popular culture questions included, "What role did Adam West play on television?"
Barb Hummel, event organizer and a mentor and coach for the robotics team, was pleased with the turnout.
"We're hoping to beat last year's record of $2,000 raised," Hummel said. "Having Miss Ohio here helps. This is the second year the Miss Ohio winner has been here and there are so many people drawn to her, especially this year since she's local."
Lines for autographs from Wells stretched through the auditorium lobby. The reception was not lost on Wells, who sees the importance of inspiring students in Trumbull County.
"This gives me a chance to relate to a lot of young girls and boys who look up to me," Wells said. "To be here in person and to connect with them individually is really important to me. Being here in my hometown especially helping these kids is the best-case scenario for me. I'm having a blast."
Wells graduated from Kent State University last year, majoring in broadcast journalism.
FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Competitions are held to measure teams' abilities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills, according to the program's mission statement.
Champion High School has been involved with the FIRST robotics program for eight years.
In addition to the contest, Friday's event also featured a raffle, a Chinese auction, concessions and T-shirts.
"We had almost everything donated by the community," Hummel said. "The way this program gets support is just great."