Open in App
  • Local
  • U.S.
  • Election
  • Politics
  • Crime
  • Sports
  • Lifestyle
  • Education
  • Real Estate
  • Newsletter
  • County News Review

    North Branch robotics teams advance to state

    By John Wagner,

    27 days ago

    North Branch had not one, not two, but three FIRST Tech Challenge teams compete in the state tournament in March.

    FIRST Tech Challenge in Minnesota (MN FTC) is part of an international robotics program that includes more than 6,400 teams globally. High Tech Kids, in partnership with FIRST, has been bringing this competition to Minnesota since 2013.

    Teams of up to 15 students collaborate to build and program a robot that competes on a 12-foot-by-12-foot field. Often the teams are asked to collaborate with other teams to complete a process or finish a task.

    Each year the competition is designed to challenge students to think critically and expand their knowledge of the engineering process.

    Team RoboGlaciers, an all-girls team that consisted of Eliana Schmidt, Briana Bjerketvedt, and Rylee Zarbok, competed in the Nano Division and was part of the fourth-place alliance in the elimination rounds.

    Going up against the No. 1 alliance, they were eliminated in the semifinals.

    Team FIRE and the Glitchy Bears competed in the Galaxy division and did not advance to the elimination rounds.

    The Glitchy Bears was an all-boys team that included Joe McGill, Gabe Schrodt, Wyatt Eilers; the members of Team FIRE were Lucas Meyer, Jamison Zarbok, and Gracie Grover.

    “Advancing to the state tournament is an accomplishment all by itself,” said Becky Leuer, the coach of the program. “But we earned many team awards along the way.”

    In their November competition, RoboGlaciers was part of the No. 2 alliance and defeated the top alliance in the finals 2-1, thus securing their place in the state tournament. FIRE was part of the No. 2 alliance.

    RoboGlaciers earned numerous awards at that November competition: It received the Connect Award, which is for teams that work with a local STEM community and corporate community; it took second place for the Motivate Award for showing how all team members contribute to the success of the team; and it also earned second for the Promote Award with a one-minute video creating a PSA for FIRST.

    In their December competition, all four North Branch teams qualified for the finals.

    RoboGlaciers finished first overall and drafted GlitchyBears to be part of its first-place alliance; FIRE was part of the second-place alliance; and JagWires was part of the third-place alliance.

    In a head-to-head competition, FIRE eliminated JagWires when the second-place alliance defeated the third-place alliance.

    In the finals it was the No. 1 alliance vs. the No. 2 alliance, with RoboGlaciers and Glitchy Bears prevailing 2-0 over the teams with FIRE.

    Awards continued to pile up for RoboGlaciers, as that team once again won the Connect Award, took third for the Motivate Award, and added two additional awards to their resume. RoboGlaciers took second for the Inspire Award, the top award for an FTC team. It is given to a team that consistently rises to the top in other awards categories. They also added a second place for the Think Award, which is based entirely on the Engineering Notebook and Engineering Portfolio.

    In this competition, FIRE was recognized for third place in the Control Award, which recognizes a team that has a good software solution to make their robot “intelligent.”

    And finally, Glitchy Bears won the Innovate Award, which is for teams with innovative robots or robot mechanisms.

    “All in all, it was a very good season for the North Branch FTC Teams,” Leuer said.

    Teams are forming for next year for North Branch students in seventh grade and above. If someone is interested in being part of this program, reach out to the North Branch Activities Department or email

    Expand All
    Comments / 0
    Add a Comment
    Most Popular newsMost Popular

    Comments / 0