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Ronan High School robotics team wins Innovate Award, fourth place

BOZEMAN — The Ronan High School Robotics Team snatched the Innovate Award and took fourth last weekend at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competition. The team competed against robotics teams from all over the state of Montana on the Montana State University’s campus in Bozeman. 

“Their goal was to win the whole tournament and go to Atlanta (Ga.),” Ronan High School Robotics Adviser Jesse Gray said. “There was little bit of disappointment, but they were still excited about the tournament.”

Gray said the overall experience of the tournament was a positive one for the seven high school students, who have been preparing for the event since fall. 

Despite finishing in the middle of the pack at the First Lego League Competition, Ronan Middle School Robotics Adviser Jessica Johnson was thrilled with the performance of the middle school robotics team. 

“I was really proud of them for their teamwork,” Johnson said. “They kept pushing through and helping each other and it was great to see them in action.”

The middle school team decided to rebuild their robot from scratch the night before the tournament – a decision that caused some last minute programming issues to pop up.

The judges complimented Johnson on the middle school robotics team. And for such a young team, consisting of a majority of first-time robotics team members, Johnson was rather pleased with the results and compliments she received. 

“It’s just a great opportunity for the kids to build leadership skills as well as to hone their math and science skills,” Johnson said. “And they are super excited for next year.” 

Both the high school and middle school students spent free time touring the university, the Museum of the Rockies and the American Computer Museum in Bozeman. 

The students also visited with professors in the Engineering Department, discussing potential fields of study and future opportunities for the students. 

“I’d take this group anywhere,” Gray said, noting that his team exhibited excellent behavior during the trip.

And he just might have that opportunity. Gray and his students have been researching another robotics competition, called Swept Away. Swept Away will be held this spring in Dillon. The competition involves a game played by robots with balls and footballs on a field.  

But as for state robotics tournament next year, the teams are already planning a new course of action to secure first place and a trip to the national tournament. 

“They are already plotting,” Johnson said. 

 

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