By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) – This weekend 450 middle and high school students from four states came to Metropolitan State University of Denver for the a regional robotics competition.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“It’s really nice to see hard work that you are putting into something come true and become a reality,” said STRIVE Prep — Excel Junior Dalila Rodriguez.

Along with her classmates, Dalila has been participating in a 6-week afterschool program through BEST Robotics.

“I just love that we got so many people of different backgrounds that didn’t even want to be an engineer to come here and be involved in a team and have fun about it,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

Their goal at the Denver BEST Regional Championship was to simulate removing plastics from the ocean without disturbing the environment.

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“The students are learning problem solving, they’re being innovative, and they’re being creative. Really, no matter what field you are going into that kind of critical thinking is what we need in our future workforce and that’s what employers are looking for,” said BEST Robotics Executive Director Rosemary Mendel.

(credit: CBS)

“We did have problems with the arm and the connection with the arm, being able to extend fully,” said junior Sherel Gonzales.

Sherel and Dalila are the team’s co-leaders. Together they led the team to solve the problem.

This is the first year STRIVE Prep Excel has had a BEST Robotics team and they made it to regionals, and Sherel is already looking forward to next year.

“Be able to build our robotics team at our school and get more people involved and just spread the love of STEM and mathematics at school,” he said.

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Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.