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Perrysburg robotics team gears up for next year after second-place finish

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Sean Dunphy operates a robot arm during a club meeting at Perrysburg High School in Perrysburg. Watching is the club vice president Eunice Park. The team’s robot was good enough to finish in second place against 13 regional teams. Perrysburg’s group didn’t have enough money to go to North Dakota for the next step in the BEST competition.

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Bethany Holewinski was introduced in August to a robotics program through a workshop at Perrysburg High School.

By October, the Perrysburg High School science teacher, a few colleagues, and a group of 12 to 21 Perrysburg students were staying after school to work on their robot and project for the Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology Robotics competition. During the first six weeks of preparations, the team met once or twice a week for a hour. During the final three weeks, their daily after-school sessions ran two to three hours.

“It was something different,” junior Kayla Piezer said. “We were trying to build something and complete a task while actually applying ourselves.”

Sophomore Sean Dunphy said they started having fun. After a certain point, the group wanted to be sure it had something “to show off” at the Falcon BEST robotics contest Oct. 26 at Bowling Green State University’s Anderson Arena.

Competing against 13 teams from other northwest Ohio schools, Perrysburg Creative Processing Unlimited placed second to Vanguard Technical Center of Fremont. A team representing the Sylvania schools finished third in the BEST awards.

“It was fun with the people and idea of completing a robot,” junior Eunice Park said. “And we wanted to win. We’re the first ones to do this here, and we want to leave a legacy.”

Perrysburg students said they were as nervous as if they were at a football game. Their robot had to pick up items, put them in certain place, and spin and move around under a time limit. The team’s marketing group developed a company brand and pitched it to judges.

Second place qualified the team for a regional competition in North Dakota, but the group didn’t raise enough money for the trip.

Mrs. Holewinski said a robotics club may be starting soon.

“It was great to see,” she said. “The students really took over the project, and that was the point.”

Mrs. Holewinski said students posted on the group’s blog in the middle of the night, reminding peers to bring supplies or work from home.

She said she was shocked that after the six-week project ended, students wanted to meet the next Monday to talk about what they did well and what they needed to improve next year.

Next year, the Perrysburg robot-builders will look to finish better than second. The core group of mostly sophomores and juniors already is contemplating how it can raise enough money for the regional event.

“It is a different motivation,” said Perrysburg teacher Nate Ash, who guided the group. “No one is happy with second.”

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