A group of RVHS students were driving a remote control vehicle through the school’s hallways late one night laughing and arguing about who was going to drive next.
While the kids were having a good time, they were not, as one might think, causing trouble. They were learning.
For the first time in its history, the local school district is offering a program that is gaining in popularity among students across the country.
The program is known as robotics, and the fact that 16 students from RVHS have joined the team is a good indication the program is already moving in the right direction.
“We’re building a robot,” said Ben Ovre. “How cool is that?”
Students like Ovre, Travis Sowder, Jordan Opdahl and Margaret Fabrizius are just a few who have joined the group for one reason or another, and they all bring skills to the table that have benefitted the project.
Opdahl said he is interested in engineering after he graduated from high school, as did Sowder and Ovre.
Some of them just like the science or the technology behind the program.
According to Todd Steve and Mark Buyck, program co-coaches, some are involved because this is their area of interest.
“We have some kids who are involved in other activities and others who are only in robotics,” said Buyck.
Steve said there is a good mix of students in Grades 9-12, adding many of them have been very dedicated to the program.
The group, which started building its robot in early January have to have it finished as of midnight Tuesday in advance of the regional contest they are entering March 6-8 in Duluth. First® Robotics is a program that has more than 180 schools involved, which interestingly enough, means there are more of them than there are hockey teams in the state. While the program is a competition, the focus is on what Steve and Buyck called gracious professionalism.
That means while teams are competing against each other the idea is for them to compete at their best. That means teams are going to be offering advice to help other teams improve on their robot, which is ideal for the new RVHS program.
Steve said the team has gotten a lot of help from other teams, as well as financial support from sponsors. He also said Daktronics has offered some guidance to the students along the way. Although the coaches and experts can offer guidance, the robot must be designed and built by the students.
The team is looking forward to showing off its creation at the contest in March.