Janesville School Board recognizes Parker robotics team

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Nick Crow
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

JANESVILLE — The Janesville School Board on Tuesday honored Parker High School's robotics team after it placed fourth in the national Zero Robotics competition last month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"We toured the MIT campus and Boston in general," said Blake Stacks, Parker senior and project manager for the team. "It was phenomenal. One of the best experiences of my life, so far."

The students remotely programmed robotic satellites aboard the International Space Station as a part of the competition. They were given coordinates and told to design the robots to deflect a comet during the mock exercise.

At the finals in Cambridge, the Parker students were teamed with schools from Charlottesville, Va. and Claremont, Calif. to compete against eight other, three-school teams. Parker was the only team to qualify for the MIT finals from the Midwest.

"It was really cool," Stacks said.

During the team's visit to Massachusetts, students were also able to meet astronauts, tour the MIT campus and visit the Boston Museum of Science and MIT museums.

"I just want to say how absolutely proud I am of all of you guys," school board member Scott Feldt told the team Tuesday. "For your first time there, to get fourth. Not too shabby."

Superintendent Karen Schulte wrote in her blog Tuesday that last year the team had finished 29th.

"I'm very proud of all of you," she said.

Schulte wrote that two members of the robotics team--Stacks and Sam Schendel--also would be attending MIT.

"That's an indication that one of the very best technology schools in the country recognizes student achievement here in Janesville," Schulte said.

NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space sponsored the competition.

The team consisted of 12 Parker students and one Craig High School student. They were Stacks, Schendel, Noah Seichter, Bobby Getka, Chris Hanson, Keegan McCluskey, Travis Duffy, Jeff Waite, Jeremy Watson, Nathan Hermanson, Justin Guy, Alex Lippincott and Stephen Presti.

Advisors for the team were Bob Getka, Tom Heiss and Julie Waite.

Last updated: 7:49 am Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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