Go Go Gadgetrons: EGMS robotics competes at state
For the first time in the East Grand School District’s robotics program history, eight middle schoolers took their custom-built robot to compete at the state competition and battled more than competitors on the way.
East Grand Middle School’s Team Gadgetrons, part of the FIRST Tech Robotics program, placed 24th out of 31 total teams at the all-day state competition Feb. 8 at Mountain Range High School in Westminster.
“They were holding steady well into the first half of the event — they were killing it,” said Missy Quinn, technology teacher at East Grand Middle School and robotics coach. “Just making it to a state event where you’re going up against all high school teams, making it as a middle school team — that’s huge.”
The team’s day started off delayed by the weekend snowstorm and an avalanche on Berthoud Pass early Saturday morning. However, the team was determined to make it to the competition and that determination stuck with them throughout the contest.
“It was harrowing. We weren’t sure if we were going to make it,” Quinn said. “But it was a great day.”
Team Gadgetrons is made up of seventh-graders Logan Walker, Bridget Aither, Egan Osborne, Kaylee Hoover and Elaine Oliveria, and eighth-graders Adam Zeleznikar, Zeke Morrow, Alycea Richter and Braden Burns.
Earlier in January, the team had placed second in the qualifying rounds at the semi-finals in Denver granting them a chance to compete at state.
According to Quinn, this is the second FIRST Tech Robotics team to make it to the state competition, but the first team to have a robot compete. The other team that made it to state was honored for engineering work.
Team Metal Minds, the other East Grand Middle School team, placed third in the THINK award, which highlights the engineering experience throughout the season as documented in the team’s engineering notebook.
This year was the first year that Middle Park High School had competitors in the FIRST Tech Robotics program and the two rookie teams both received accolades at the robotics meet.
Team High Ground, consisting of ninth-graders Blake Allen, Steffi O’Flaherty and Luke Vecchiarelli, were recognized with third place in the Collins Aerospace Innovation Award, which celebrates teams that use innovation in the design and performance of their robot.
Ninth-graders Paddy Aither and Brayden Webb of Team Terramech placed fourth in the qualifying rounds of the robotics meet in Denver. They narrowly missed qualifying for state. Terramech also received second place for the Design Award, thanks to its functional and aesthetic robot.
Quinn hopes to continue growing the robotics program with more teams at the high school level, as well as an all-girls middle-school team. In the future, she’s also interested in bringing the FIRST Lego League to fifth- and sixth-graders, which is like an introductory program for robotics.
“It really challenges them to think outside the box, to build something for a specific task, and it also teaches them how to work in teams,” Quinn said of FIRST Tech. “I think overall it’s just a really great program for them to be a part of.”
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