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MSA scores big at FIRST Robotics World Championships

Math and Science Academy's robotics team, the Fighting Calculators, took second place in their division at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics World Championships April 26-28.

Both Math and Science Academy and East Ridge High School have proven their robotic skills.

The two schools' robotics teams competed in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri April 26-28.

The MSA Fighting Calculators placed second in the division finals and the East Ridge Robotic Ominous Raptors (ERRORs) placed 20th out of 100 teams in their division.

"It was absolutely amazing," said Will Preska, adviser for the Fighting Calculators. "I'm all out of adrenaline - I've used my annual allotment all in one weekend."

The two teams competed against 400 other robotics teams from around the world.

"There is nothing like attending a competition to really understand the compelling story FIRST makes," said Doug Jensen, adviser for the ERRORs. " In society you 'get what you celebrate' - so it is extremely moving to see a football stadium packed with tens of thousands of people all cheering for each other."

The 400 teams were divided among four divisions - Archimedes, Curie, Galileo and Newton.

MSA competed in Galileo and East Ridge competed in Newton.

The winning team from each division then went on to compete in the Einstein Finals.

The FIRST Robotics Competition requires teams to build a robot in six weeks that can perform specific tasks.

This year's challenge required teams to build robots that could shoot flying discs into goals and climb three-tiered pyramids.

Robotics teams are allowed a total of six weeks to build and program their robots.

A quality alliance

MSA was seeded in the Galileo division, where it competed against various teams throughout the competition.

"At that level every match is intense," Preska said.

At the end of the preliminary matches, the top eight teams chose two other teams to act as alliances in the next round.

The next round of competition had three robots facing off against three robots.

Even though MSA didn't finish in the top eight teams, they were able to compete in the next round since they were chosen as an alliance team by KING TeC, of Prior Lake, Minn.

"It was really fun to be picked by them because we know them really well," Preska said.

The MSA and KING TeC alliance also included Candenton 4-H Laser Robotics from Missouri.

MSA's alliance advanced to the division finals where they took second place.

In fact, the alliance that MSA's alliance lost to went on to become the world champions.

All members of the Fighting Calculators walked away with silver medals and the team received a second place trophy that will be displayed at the school.

"Right now, it's a lot of enthusiasm," Preska said. "Everyone is flying on cloud nine. I couldn't be prouder of my kids."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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