CtMS robotics team heading to state

The Centennial Middle School robotics team, the BraveBots, celebrate winning the robotic skills, excellence, teamwork and judges awards on Feb. 22 at the Western Slope Squared Away Vex IQ Tournament in Craig. The team will compete in the state competition on March 14 in Erie.

After qualifying one team for the first time ever to the robotics state tournament last year, Centennial Middle School will now send three separate groups to this upcoming competition.

This was made possible after the CtMS Bravebots’ performance on Feb. 22 in the Western Slope Squared Away Vex IQ Tournament in Craig.

Each team was asked to complete challenges that tested individual skills and programming as well as collaborate with other teams. The CtMS BraveBots made a clean sweep of the awards.

Centennial will now send all three teams to the Colorado State Tournament on March 14 in Erie.

“We’re killing it,” CtMS robotics instructor Chris Thompson said. “I’m really proud of my kids. It’s really the culmination of three years of grants, getting kids, having camps and having robotics as an elective.”

VEX Robotics is an educational organization that wants every student to have the opportunity to learn from hands-on STEM education and know the feeling of creating something with technology, according to its website.

For competitions, CtMS students first had to build an automotive remote-controlled robotic device. After creating these devices, the middle schoolers are timed to take cubes and put them on platforms, where they then had to move balls into the cubes. They were given points based on their success.

Centennial’s awards were given to the school based on their quickness and proficiency in the competition, by presenting a well-produced design notebook, having a well-designed robot and doing well at the judges' interview and showing great sportsmanship, according to Thompson.

Centennial had 10 total students that comprised those three teams heading to state.

At the Craig tournament, Blake Griffin, Dylan Jessop, Jackson Barnett and Austin Zimmer were rewarded the teamwork championship and the design award which qualified them for state.

The excellence and sportsmanship awards went to Colton Ward, Brent Lucero and John Noel Cruz who are all state qualifiers.

And the teamwork champion award was given to Jack Flower, Johann Farnes and Zach Motley who will represent CtMS in Erie on March 14.

Additionally, at the Craig tournament, the judges award, for design, collaboration, sportsmanship and exemplary teamwork, went to Giada Amundson and Paige Sharp.

Although the robotics team has thrived at Centennial, Thompson hopes robotics can be passed down to the younger grades. He said recently they have donated kits to Johnson and Cottonwood elementary schools which have since started their own VEX Robotics clubs.

Those groups have also received extra help from Thompson and his students as they’ll visit the schools and help them craft their machines.

“The idea is to have a vertically aligned, sustainable VEX IQ program where I can pull kids from the elementary school who already have the experience,” Thompson said. “Then, we can do a great job at competing.”

Robotics isn’t just found at Centennial as Montrose High School has its own program, Thompson said.

“From top to bottom, we’re trying to bring robotics to our neck of the woods,” he added.

Depending on their performance at state, the BraveBots can qualify for the world championship in April in Louisville, Kentucky.

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.

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