May 4, 2001

Middle School MAST Academy Students Place 3rd

In Robotics Competition with L.A.-Area Students

A team of North County middle school students, competing against Los Angeles-area high school and middle school students, placed third Sunday in a robotics competition at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

The 10-member North County team, composed of students from four schools and two home-schooled children, built their computer-driven robots in the MAST Academy at the San Diego County Office of Education.

The North County team was one of three MAST Academy entries in the NASA/JPL "Botball" contest. The MAST Academy is a four-week program, meeting on Saturdays, providing enriched opportunities in math, science and technology for some of the county's brightest students.

The 10 North County Students are: Justin Alconcel, Julie Depner, Nadia Lacerra, Ivan Oldenkamp and Herminia Ramirez of Del Dios Middle School in the Escondido Union School District; Panna Felsen of Oak Crest Middle School in the San Dieguito Union High School District; Danny Kinsel of L.R. Green School in the Escondido Union School District: Lance McDaniel of San Pasqual School in the San Pasqual Union School District; and home-schooled brothers Richard and Paul Batteron-Ross of Escondido.

Twenty-five other San Diego County students made up the other two local teams competing in the "Botball" event. Those students came from 12 schools: Carmel Valley Middle; Dukes Elementary; Marshall, Oak Crest, and San Ysidro Middle; Julian Junior High; Chet Harritt School; Preuss School; and Emerald, MacQueen, Muirlands and Standley Middle Schools.

The local students' participation in the Pasadena tournament was made possible by eight sponsors, in addition to the Country Office of Education: Dow Chemical, General Dynamics, Diversa, Xencor, Alligen, Telanetix Corp., the Preuss Foundation, and Dr. Paul Zorner.

"The students thoroughly enjoyed designing and building their robots, and then competing in Pasadena," said San Diego County Office of Education Science Coordinator Nancy Taylor. "We truly appreciate the support of the sponsors. Without them the students wouldn't have been able to compete."

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