Robotics Club places 12th in regional competition
Five students heading the Treasure Mountain Junior High School Robotics Club, called the "Robotics Mustangs," earned 12th Place out of 30 teams at the Denver FIRST Tech Challenge last week. According TMJHS Principal Bob O’Connor, the club fulfills the needs of gifted science students because it allows them to test their skills and knowledge base.
The club received private donations for students to fly to Denver for the competition, O’Connor said, adding that he volunteered to drive the robotics equipment to the competition because it was too fragile to carry on the plane. The club also received support from the Park City School Board, who granted the students permission to travel out of the state.
Club sponsor Julie Hooker said the students worked together during the 45 rounds of the competition on March 17. They also received a trophy for the "Connect" award, which is appointed to the team who ‘connects’ the most with their community.
"The club is fully inclusive with English Language learners and students from the special education program," Hooker said, "In addition, Burt Pacal, a Park City Mountain Resort ski patroller and engineer, inspired the students to build a robot that can throw balls for dogs. As a team they pulled together and all worked with each others’ strengths."
Robotics Club president Nathanial Rosenblum designed the robot, while vice president Max Johansen wrote the programming code. The boys said team member Florent Astie acted as the intermediary to communicate between the divisions.
Pacal was an inspiration to the team, Johansen said, adding that they used a lot of his ideas while preparing for the competition. Johansen learned how to write the autonomous code for the robot, which enables it to function on its own for 30 seconds, he said.
"We did really well because we had a really good autonomous code. It’s really pivotal that a team has that. There were a lot of teams who were behind so we felt like we were pretty prepared," he said. "I had to write some code on the fly to help another team and that was pretty intense. A big thing that they (the judges) stressed at the competition was gracious professionalism."
"I realized how much our students did to prepare," Hooker said, "This is an entirely student-run club. It was so much fun being in the audience. March Madness has nothing on the FIRST Tech Challenge."
The Robotics club hopes to have two teams next year. Both Rosenblum and Johansen have agreed to coach the teams for next year. For more information about the Robotics Club, visit http://www.tmms.pcschools.us .
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