Upton Middle School robotics teams win big at state competition

Joe Bots Maize team at state Joe Bots teams at qualifier in Coloma
Upton Middle School's three robotics teams shined over the weekend at the Michigan FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) State Championships in Howell. 

This is the third year in a row that the "Joe Bots" teams, Maize, Blue and White, competed at the championship level. During the FTC Championships, the Maize team took home the top honor alongside alliance teammates and set a world record with their work. 

All FTC teams are given a challenge in September to build a robot that can compete in events beginning in October. More than 600 FTC teams compete for the 72 spots allotted for the championships.

This year, the team's robots had to perform a number of tasks, including lifting itself off the ground, throwing a paper airplane into a scoring zone and collecting and placing game pieces on a backdrop, said Morgan Brunsting, Robotics Coordinator of St. Joseph Public Schools.

"This year’s challenge focused on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), and our success shows St. Joseph students are competing at the highest levels in the state in these disciplines," said Kristen Bawks, Assistant Superintendent for Saint Joseph Public Schools. "The teams worked independently on the design, building, programming, and marketing for their projects, but were also there to help out their sister teams if needed."

While competing as the Joe Bots, the three teams also worked with other schools' teams to boost their knowledge of the sport. 

"The FIRST program emphasizes community and Gracious Professionalism - the way of encouraging high quality work, and valuing and respecting individuals and community," said Brunsting. "Our students are excited to share their knowledge and learn from other teams, embodying the ethos of FIRST."

"The whole Upton Middle School staff is thrilled at the resounding success of Upton Middle School's robotics program, where innovation meets education! Through dedication, teamwork, and cutting-edge technology, our students have not only embraced the world of robotics but have excelled in it." said Upton Principal Chad Mandarino. "The future is bright, and Upton Middle School students are so inspiring!"

You can watch a video of the winning event below.

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