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Hastings robotics team off to a good start

The FLL team advancing to state sectionals is pictured here. They are, from left, Eric Barber, Kyle Stoltz, Luke Blattner, Nathan Schindler, John Braun and in front is Will Clifford. (Submitted photo) 1 / 3
FTC team members pictured during judging are, from left, Shawn Thorkildson, Rylan Clark, Marinna Smallidge, Meghan McNamara, Noelle Gahnz, Kylie Fillion, Jacob Soucek and Tyler Evans. (Submitted photo)2 / 3
Students holding the Stratasys Award are Kylie Fillion (left) and Meghan McNamara. The whole team worked on the idea and testing of the wheels, but these two did the CAD design work and made sure the wheels were printed. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

Hastings’ robotics competition teams had some good success on Sunday, Dec. 13. The FIRST Lego Leauge (FLL) team competed in a Rochester tournament and the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team competed in North Branch.

FLL teams (grades six, seven and eight) work with predetermined robots and challenge courses, all made of Legos. The teams work to program their robots to perform a series of actions and accomplish certain tasks around the course to score points. Outside of one small corner of the challenge board, the robot must operate completely autonomously, relying on students’ programming to guide it through a task.

FTC teams are given a set challenge board and must design and build a robot that can navigate the challenge and complete set tasks under student control. Students can use any design.

In Rochester, one of Hastings’ FLL teams earned the Core Values award for teamwork and gracious professionalism. Team members are Eric Barber, Luke Blattner, John Braun, Will Clifford, Nathan Schindler and Kyle Stoltz.

Another FLL team won a Judges award for teamwork. Team members are Grace Vervair, Ethan Berndt, Brody Hampl, Kira Lindstrom, Quintin Schmidt and Colin Beard.

And, for the first time in five years, an FLL team was invited to advance to the state level. It was the same team that won the Core Values award.

“The students represented themselves and Hastings Public Schools well on Sunday,” said Kim Wald, one of the advisers for the robotics team. “The learning continued throughout the day and the experience is awesome for them.”

The FTC team in North Branch won the Stratasys Award for perseverance in the engineering process. The award came from the team’s efforts in designing and producing custom 3D printed wheels for their robot. The team was also one of three finalists for the Rockwell Collins Award for innovation and follow-through on design process documentation for a working mechanism on the robot.

The FTC team placed 11th out of 24 teams overall – which isn’t bad for a first attempt, Wald said.

FTC team members are Rylan Clark, Marinna Smallidge, Kylie Fillion, Tyler Evans, Jacob Soucek, Meghan McNamara, Noelle Gahnz and Shawn Thorkildson.

The FTC team will compete next on Jan. 16 in Eden Prairie.