Earlier this month seven Helena robotics teams took part in the Montana First Lego League Championship event in Shroyer gym at Montana State University in Bozeman.

Each year, FLL teams embark on an adventurous challenge based on current, real-world issues. This year’s theme was “Smart Move.” Guided by a team coach and assisted by mentors, the kids learn to do the following: (1) research and solve real-world transportation problems, (2) present their research and solutions, and (3) build an autonomous robot using engineering concepts that will outperform other teams in a series of challenges.

The Helena Cone Heads team brought home the second place over-all championship award. The Cone Heads team members are Mykaela Edwards, Dylan Tillinger and Emily Felde from C.R. Anderson and Cameron Dole from Helena Middle School. The team coaches were Dan and Beth Jankowski. 

Holt Gibson, Nicholas Case, and Jay Van Alstyne from HMS, Connor Whyte from CRA and coach Shawn Whyte called themselves the Traffic Ninjas. They took home the second-place project presentation award with a proposal to reroute traffic at HMS and CRA to improve flow and safety using the same presentation they gave at a January Helena school board meeting.

A Hawthorne team called Pickle People with members Kris Bosch, Elijah Beckstrom, Nathan George, Colin Gillespie and coach Helen Bosch won the judges award and finished third in the robot performance event.

The Minds in Motion team, coached by Kaye Poston, won the rising star award for showing promise for the future. Minds in Motion members are Sean Manners from Smith Elementary, Sanskrit Singh from Four Georgians, Jake Bubby from Hawthorne, and Jayson Lund and Ante Crowley from Jefferson Elementary.

Finishing fourth in the robot performance event were the Motorized Maniacs with John Duffy of Hawthorne, Gunter Roy, Lance and Isaac Fischer of Central, and home- schooled Michael Schultz and Cole Oakley-Webb. The team was coached by Carolyn Schultz. 

The team that placed second in Robot Performance and first in Robot Design was called E-Fishiest. Team members are Josh Steiner from CRA and Sam Azure, Giles Hardy, and Josh Barrows from HMS and team coach Merlin Barrows.

Team LC4H coached by Eli T Booth, with members Gracie Gibbons, Eli Mahler, Wesley Coon, Tyler Simonson, Colton Nelson, Garrett Poteet, Totem Brewer, and two other team members, brought home the first-place programming award.

Merwin Barrows won the adult mentor/coach award for his work mentoring and coaching teams through the PEAK after-school robotics program that he helped organize.

The Cone Heads are an unaffiliated Helena team and the LC4H team is sponsored by Lewis and Clark 4-H. All of the other Helena robotics teams are a part of the Helena School District PEAK after-school program.

The robotics season began in early September and will culminate in an international competition in April at the Atlanta Georgia Dome.

MSU also hosted the high school statewide FIRST Tech Challenge event. Of the 12 teams from around the state at the event, the Helena team finished third in the double-elimination paired alliance tournament. The team is coached by Capital High School teacher John Miller, and its members are Forrest Arnold, Derek Sinrud, Killian Smith, Anita Ratcliff, Austin Powell, Quinn Kurokawa, Ryan Cain and Cory Krings of CHS, and Jordan Barrows of HHS.

(2) comments


I just wanted to make a few name corrections.

The Minds in Motion members are: Sean Manners from Smith Elementary, Jaskrit Singh from Four Georgians, Jake Bubb from Hawthorne, and Jaydon Lund and Nate Crowley from Jefferson Elementary.

And, although I suspect he's used to it, the coach for the E-Fishies (not E-Fishiest) is Merwin Barrows (not Merlin).


i had soo much fun at the competion! we did great! we got 2nd place overall! yea!

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