Student Robotic Builders

By KBJR News 1

December 20, 2011 Updated Dec 20, 2011 at 1:48 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Robotics teams have become popular at middle and high schools, even in college. Students at Duluth Marshall have done well enough to earn a berth at Minnesota's state competition.

Dave Anderson shows us the robot builders and their future plans.

"Three, two, one, Lego!"

This table is a coliseum. These robots are the gladiators. They're the end result of hard work by Marshall School's middle school robotics team. The team is made up of enthusiastic sixth to eighth graders.

"Just being able to use your imagination is its strongest point and having fun and being part of a team," said team member Josh Hoyum.

The team is part of the FIRST Lego League. First means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

"The wonderful thing about robotics is the kids are using math, science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and lots of programming," said coach Anne Castle.

During a competition, the robots are programmed to run an obstacle course and perform an end task.

This year, the Marshall kids have done well enough to earn a spot at the state competition in January. Team members know why they earned the trip.

"For one thing, past experience. A lot of the kids on our teams have done this before," said team member Emily Jackson.

Marshall's Lego League team has been around for a few years and now, they'll start a high school team that is also part of the FIRST organization.

The Duluth East Daredevils are a powerhouse there.
However, their captain, Kirsi Kuutti, has a brother on the Marshall team. Instead of sibling rivalry or mutual espionage, that could help both teams.

"FIRST has the core value of cooperation which is competition but working together so I'm hoping that next year if I'm on the Marshall team or the East team that we can be an alliance," said team member Sam Kuutti.

Strong alliances are one of the reasons the Daredevils made it to nationals earlier this year. Despite a potential alliance in the future, Marshall's robot runners will also stand up for themselves.

"Even though they've been really wonderful in helping us out, we're going to give the Daredevils a definite run for their money," said high school team coach Dr. Wendy Carter.

The First Organization that sponsors robot competitions around the world was started by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway scooter.

Reported by Dave Anderson