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Two Harbors Robo Dweebs Win Trip to Johnson Space Center

Baihly Warfield
Updated: July 23, 2019 10:37 PM

They call themselves Dweebs with a capital D, but a group of Two Harbors middle schoolers are anything but. 

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The Robo Dweebs just won the grand prize at a robotics competition among 27 other teams. It was called the "Apollo Next Giant Leap Student Challenge," a NASA-sponsored event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. 

In the challenge, five Dweebs work together to fly a drone out and drop a lunar lander, then place a rocket nearby, then collect a rock sample and work to identify it. They also have to avoid craters and keep their rocket upright.

"We just practiced and kept running it and trying new things if something didn't work," Wyatt Huddleston, a Two Harbors 8th grader, said. 

It worked on July 18 at the statewide competition in the Twin Cities. The Robo Dweebs' first-place finish earned them a trip to Houston, Texas, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Space Center. 

"I love flying, so I'm really looking forward to that. I think a plane ride alone is great," Sophia Bata said. 

Todd Bata, an assistant coach, said the drone was an especially exciting piece of the challenge. 

"Everyone, of course, wanted to fly that right away," Bata said. "We were flying through hula hoops and landing them in hula hoops and trying to learn how to fly it."

Bata, who also works at AAR, just joined the team this spring. He said he is always amazed.

"These kids, they do all of this work on their own," Bata said. 

He's especially inspired by his own daughters, Sophia and Padme Bata, who are both on the team. 

"They always amaze me, even away from this," he said. "But to see them come together and work and put something together ... this is all their work."

And the Dweebs do it all in chicken suits. The poultry can also be seen riding their robot and adorning the team's logo. 

"You drive into Two Harbors and you see the big Weldon's chicken," Sophia said. "And then what represents our team is that every practice, we devour a box of Chicken in a Biskit. We really enjoy Chicken in a Biskit."

It might have been just the fuel they needed for the next giant leap forward. 

The team leaves Sunday, Aug. 4. One coach and five Dweebs had all expenses paid, but they are bringing a few other team members and parents along, so they have a fundraiser set up on Facebook to help pay for the extra people. 

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Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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