Updated: 03/07/2014 5:25 PM
Created: 03/07/2014 3:45 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
The fierce FIRST Robotics competition kicked off at the DECC on Friday. Teams learn all kinds of science and technical skills building the bots, but this year one team is pushing drug and alcohol prevention too.
Over 100 teams from around the Midwest descended on the DECC for the Aerial Assist challenge. To win, the high school athletes had to use their robots to drive and dunk exercise balls into goals.
Figuring out how to fling them can be pretty complex according to the Two Harbors Rock Solid Robotics Co-captain Dennis Pearson.
“Two CIM motors go into one gearbox that then spins a hex-shaft into a sprocket with a chain that attaches to the arms, which then throws it. That was complicated,” Pearson said.
He said students build and program the robots, but money from sponsors make it possible for them to buy materials they need.
“They're very important. Without sponsors we couldn't be doing any of this,” Pearson said.
Most sponsors are science or engineering based companies like 3M and Cirrus Aircraft. However a drug and alcohol prevention program called The Movement is powering the robot from Deer River.
“I like The Movement a lot because it helps teens realize that there is more to life in high school than drinking and partying,” Dermont Wester said.
Wester is the safety captain for the Deer River DROBA Warriors. His teammate Tristen Aho agreed and said many of the robotics team members are part of the prevention group.
“It feels really good because a lot of us are in The Movement so then when we have a meeting for The Movement we can king of hang out and talk about it. But then when we're here working on the robot we can talk about the movement too,” Aho said.
The sponsorship helps drug and alcohol prevention by keeping the students busy with robotics.
“I just kind of got hooked into it and ever since I've been putting in hours during school and after hours building it, designing it. We've been going all out,” Wester said.
Working with gears, circuits and motors gets the students ready for future careers, but the teammates build more than just robots.
“I've had a blast with all of these people here. They're my best friends,” Wester said. “It's just a great time to hang out and have fun with all of them.”
The matches on Friday were just qualifying rounds. The competition continues on Saturday with the final rounds starting at 1:30 p.m.
Police Cruiser Torched Outside Ferguson City Hall, Protesters Ordered off Streets
Authorities in Ferguson have responded quickly after a police car was set on fire outside Ferguson city hall.
Peaceful Ferguson Protests Hit the Northland
While chaos ensues in Ferguson, Missouri Tuesday, peaceful protestors in the Northland were asking for change both in Ferguson and closer to home.
Citizens Voice Concerns over Policing in Open Forum
Duluth community members voiced their concerns Tuesday night with local police at a Citizen Review Board forum, as the Duluth Police Department strives to maintain a good relationship with the community. Events in Ferguson, Missouri have brought into focus issues of excessive police force and profiling across the country
Person Struck by Car at Minneapolis Rally
A rally in Minneapolis over the events of Ferguson turned scary when a car hit a pedestrian. A police spokesperson says the woman suffered minor injuries.
UMD's NRRI Minerals Lab: Testing Technology for the Future
The scientists at UMD's NRRI Mineral Lab in Coleraine are working with technology called WHIMS, to see if they can use ore that now is considered waste rock by the mines.