Robo-rookies wow in RC

Robotics team makes state, earns honors in inaugural season

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Rogers City High School eighth-graders Muriel Garms and Isabella Pitts stand with their robot, Negative Nelly, on Monday. The students, a rookie robotics team, won five awards in their inaugural season and got the opportunity to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics state championships last weekend.

ROGERS CITY — The Rogers City High School robotics team has set the standard for future Rogers City robotics teams.

In the team’s first season of existence this school year, eighth-graders Muriel Garms and Isabella Pitts represented Rogers City and worked together to finish 102nd out of 542 For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics teams in the state. They were just 12 spots away from clinching a spot in the FIRST World Championships.

The team won five awards this season: the Rookie Inspiration Award and the Highest Rookie Award at the first of two district competitions in Alpena, the Rookie All Star Award and a finalist award at the second district competition, and a Judges Award at the state competition last weekend. They also were given an award at the second district competition from the Holland Christian Schools team for being alliance partners.

Garms and Pitts went to the FIRST State Championships last weekend at Saginaw Valley State University and finished 24th out of 40 teams in the Ford Division. Garms said it was really inspiring to go.

“We’re two people, a lot of teams have like 20 to, like, 50 members,” Garms said. “It was really, really awesome.”

They were assisted throughout the season by the Alpena High School and Posen Consolidated High School robotics teams with their robot.

“We’ve had some help from them, but we also had team members from (Alpena) Team 5230 help us a lot, especially in the pits and taking the robot on and off the field,” Pitts said.

Seeing all the other teams at the state championships was also inspiring to Garms and Pitts. Now, they know that they can make it that far and compete with teams who have been there before.

“We were shocked,” Garms said about receiving the Judges Award at the state contest.

Next year, Garms and Pitts hope more Rogers City students join the team. They are planning to participate in the Nautical Festival parade and in an offseason competition.

Garms said robotics helps build skills that can be used in the job force. She learned a lot this season about science and engineering and learned that it’s more than just science, it’s also about teamwork and time management.

“We definitely learned a lot that we didn’t know before,” Garms said.

“We learned, especially, electric things, because of issues we had and figured out how to solve them,” Pitts said.

Team mentor Alex Kesek said she’s enjoyed watching Garms and Pitts grow this season. She said there’s been a lot of struggles and laughs along the way.

“It’s been incredible, especially seeing them grow, because now they’re more comfortable talking to other people and they’ve just grown so much and it’s great,” Kesek said. “These two came up with a lot of ideas on which direction they want the team to go.”

Nick Hein, Rogers City Area Schools superintendent and middle/high school principal, said Garms and Pitts should be proud of themselves for going to the state championships.

“I’m sure it was a tremendous thrill and something that you don’t probably appreciate when you’re there, but then you get back, it’s one of those things where other people and us as grownups are telling them, ‘Wow, you need to be reminded that you did something really amazing,'” Hein said. “We can definitely appreciate what they did, especially in such short time. Hopefully, there will be some consistency in the program and it will move forward.”

Some of the team’s awards are being displayed in the middle/high school main office and Hein said they will make room in the school’s trophy case so their awards can be seen by everybody.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.