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Robotics Team Leaves Mark at Worlds

Capping off a tremendous season, the Pierce robotics team was shocked to discover that not only did they have a 5-5 finish at the VEX world championships, but they also earned the judges award in the innovation division at the world competition, held April 25-27 in Dallas, Texas. 

The judges award is presented to teams deserving of special recognition. Key criteria for the judges award were demonstrating communication skills, teamwork and professionalism in the interview with judges. The judges specifically mentioned the engineering notebook, the interviews,  exemplary effort and perseverance at the event and season performance as factors in determining the award. A judges award was given at each of the 10 divisions.

“I really appreciate the countless hours of actual practice time plus online research and scouting to see how the game is evolving that the kids made along with the engineering concepts and programming” Dostal remarks. “I’m so proud of the way they handled themselves.”

Finishing with a 5-5 record, Pierce was randomly paired with other teams within the Innovate division including teams from Canada, California, Alabama, Indiana, Utah, New York, Tennessee and Florida. The team finished 43 in the division and were not selected for the 32 team tournament.

Team driver, Travis Emory says, “Two years ago, I didn't even know what VEX Robotics was. Little did I know, it would be one of the best things I said "yes" to in my high school career. VEX Robotics isn't just building a robot. There are so many valuable life skills that I have learned from this whole program. I'm proud that Pierce High is on the map in the robotics world, and I hope that we can continue our success.”

Competition was fierce with tough defense from many teams causing scoring to be low and many robot clashes/tangles occurred. Pierce’s robot matched the speed and skill of most robots in the division but were unable to get the valuable win points from the autonomous portion of the game.

Not only is driving the robot an important part of the competition, but the actual engineering of the robot is essential to a successful team. 

“I also could not have asked for a better robotics career, starting with little knowledge to today by making it to the world competition twice. Going to Worlds is such a unique experience because I get to speak with people from all over the world and hear their ideas for solving the problems of the game. It's always been fun when teams from around the world and Nebraska have to ask where Pierce is because we are such a small school. Despite this, we have always been able to compete with the bigger schools and have put Pierce robotics in the minds of the teams of VEX Robotics,” 71414A’s engineer, Tate Reinke says.

In addition to driving and engineering the robot, numerous hours of coding and programming take place. 

“Throughout our 2023-2024 year of robotics, our team grew further than I could ever imagine. We had to adapt to the game strategy developments and our determination never faded away. We also grew very close as a team that nobody could ever imagine. Of course, by now I'd be surprised if we all weren't tired of each other; but I'm glad I got to work with these intelligent individuals and help leave a mark on Pierce High's robotics team,” Amber Shefl, team programmer comments. “If I had to choose which organization left the biggest impact on my life, it would definitely be Robotics. Throughout these two years, I have found my love for technology, coding, building, and coordinating with others to devise a wonderful product (or robot). The only thing that I regret is not joining as a freshman. I am going into Computer Science at UNL and I have earned my way into the Raikes Honors Program which I strongly believe that robotics took a huge role in. I thank Mrs. Dostal and everyone who encouraged me to join this amazing organization and to never give up.”

First year robotics team member Makayla Shefl says, “I had so much fun meeting new teams, seeing different robot designs, and especially the new game reveal at the closing ceremony. Being in robotics has taught me many things including the design process, how to code and build, teamwork, and much more.”

In addition to the qualifying matches, the team 71414A finished 27th in the world in the skills portion of the competition, which was an improvement of 11 from their previous best score last season. The final world ranking for the Twisted Elix’rs was 143rd out of 13,769 teams.

The Pierce team was just one of 820 teams from over 40 countries represented this year at the VEX competition. 


Pierce Public Schools 201 N. Sunset St. Pierce, NE  68767

402.329.6217 Fax: 402.329.4678

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