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Julesburg takes first in 'crossfire' firefighting robotic challenge

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Peetz High School competes at BEST Robotics Challenge (Photo: Journal-Advocate)

By: Callie Jones, Journal-Advocate

Peetz School dominated at this year's firefighting-themed Golden Plains BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics Challenge, held Saturday at Northeastern Junior College. While the school was beat out by Julesburg for first place, they did manage to snag the second through fourth place spots.

Twelve teams from eight schools vied for the top prize in this year's competition, including: Akron Jr./Sr. High School, coached by Ed Lunquest; Caliche Jr./Sr. High School, coached by David Monheiser; Haxtun High School, coached by Joe Boerner; Holyoke Jr./Sr. High School, coached by James French; Julesburg Jr./Sr. High School, coached by Sarah Jonson; Peetz School, coached by Brian Kurz, Jessica Schumacher and Leslier Raffelson; Revere Jr./Sr. High School, coached by Meghan Wagoner and Donna Miller; and Wray Schools, coached by Michelle Uyemura.The purpose of the robotics challenge is to excite and inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math while developing career skills for tomorrow's technical leaders. Free to schools, all of the equipment and materials was provided to the teams at no cost.

Leading the robotics challenge for the Golden Plains was Larry Turner, hub director, and Mike Sullivan, assistant hub director. The game field construction crew was Mark Turner, Ralph Turner and Karen Turner.

This year's theme was "Crossfire." Students had to build a robot that could respond to a structure fire and rescue a mannequin from the fire, remove three chemical drums before they could cause more damage and extinguish flames (plastic cups) using water (ping pong balls). And they had to do all of this in just three minutes.During each match, teams had one person to control the robot and one person to help guide the team member controlling the robot.

After numerous matches in the morning and a wild card round, won by Akron Team No. 1, making it to the six semifinal rounds were Caliche, Haxtun, Julesburg, Peetz Elementary, Peetz Junior High, Peetz High School and Wray.

In between rounds, you could find teams quickly working to make repairs to their robot or making tweaks to it to help it run better. Though they were competing against each other, several students could be found helping their opponents with their robots, looking to make sure each team had an opportunity to do their best.

Following the semifinals, Julesburg stood in first place with 895 points, Peetz High School in second place with 800 points, Peetz Elementary in third with 729 points, Peetz Junior High in fourth with 720 points, Haxtun in fifth with 701 points, Wray in sixth place with 657 points, Caliche in seventh place with 406 points and Akron in eighth place with 333 points.The top four teams moved on to the three final rounds, which saw several close calls, with teams completing their tasks just as the timer buzzed. In the end Julesburg came out the winner with 898 points scored in the final round, followed by Peetz Elementary in second place with 697 points, Peetz High School in third place with 519 points and Peetz Junior High in fourth place with 401 points.

Peetz Elementary also took home the Team Sportsmanship Award, given by NJC President Jay Lee, for the team that showed the most enthusiasm and helped others, and the Most Robust Robot Award, for the robot that didn't break down and survived the matches. Wray and Julesburg were honorable mentions for the Team Sportsmanship Award.

The Founders Award, for the robot that most exemplified the theme and was able to complete all tasks, went to Julesburg.

Julesburg and the three Peetz teams will now head to the regional competition Dec. 16-17, at Metro State University, in Denver. Haxtun will serve as an alternate if one of the teams is unable to make it.

The robotics challenge was sponsored by Sedgwick County Economic Development, The William Stretesky Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Kitzmiller-Bales Trust, Will Heginbotham Trust, PT Sports in Julesburg, Cabela's Furniture in Chappell, Neb., Sherwin Williams, S.A. Foster Lumber Co., Wal-Mart, Consolidated Plumbing & Heating, Points West Community Bank and Smith Wholesale.

Callie Jones: 970-526-9286,