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Building more than a LEGO robot

Some members of the Greenbush-Middle River Hatchlings LEGO robotics team pose for a group photo in front of a practice competition mat. This past fall, GMR offered a homeroom class option for eight grade students dedicated to LEGO robotics for the first time, and 13 students signed up for it. Those pictured are: Lauren Stenberg, Asher Burslie, Jacey Wojchowski, Nathan Waage, Kobey Dallager, and Theron Kuznia. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Some members of the Greenbush-Middle River Hatchlings LEGO robotics team set up some of the LEGO pieces atop their practice competition mat. This team includes not only a build team, but also a core values team and a research team, providing team members with different opportunities.

Greenbush-Middle River eighth grade student Raymond Tarala always has had an interest in legos. When GMR provided eighth graders with a LEGO robotics class option for the first time, Raymond had no problem pursuing this option, deciding to join the team’s build team. He joined LEGO robotics for the opportunity to research and find out how to build a robot, a better option he figured then just sitting at home and reading. Getting to do all this with his classmates just made it better for him.

“My favorite part is being able to work with a group on a lego project because (with) all other stuff, I normally lock myself in my room and build,” Raymond said.
Fellow classmate and LEGO robot builder Nathan Waage has always enjoyed doing hands-on activities.  When asked about what he enjoys most about lego robotics, he not only pointed to his classmates, but also the unique opportunity it provides.
“I had a lot of fun working with my teammates on building a robot and it’s not too often you can say I just built a robot,” Waage said.
Thirteen GMR eighth grade students signed up for this fall class. Like FIRST Robotics–the organization the high school robotics team competes in–LEGO robotics provides many of the same lessons and numerous opportunities, beyond just building a robot.
“(It’s) the same thing on a smaller scale,” team advisor and GMR teacher Mary Anderson said.
Besides Anderson, GMR senior student and FIRST Robotics team member Emily Tarala and GMR paraprofessional Meghan Kvien help the team.
Anderson decided to start a LEGO Robotics team at GMR after seeing LEGO robotics teams at the FIRST Robotics World Competition and hearing  about the benefits of and the excitement created by starting a lego robotics team.
 To avoid excluding those students who may be busy with other extracurricular activities, the school decided to offer LEGO robotics during the school day. The students take this as a homeroom class from 11:15 am-11:45 am each day. Some students also dedicated some after school time to this activity, specifically a week prior to the team’s scrimmage event in Warroad in early December.
“We decided to register (and) see what it’s about. I have learned its kind of like the first year (with) FRC (FIRST Robotics Competitions),” Anderson said, “where you thought it was just going to be small little pieces and then all of a sudden you find out there’s all these different areas.”
LEGO robotics may not touch on the areas of business and safety like FIRST does, but it does have a research project component attached to it that FIRST does not. This research project and the field the team’s robot competes on focuses around the LEGO robotics theme for that year and this year’s theme centered on water.
Having this research project component allows for opportunities beyond building a robot, giving student the chance to  find their niche. Besides a build team, the LEGO robotics team also includes a core values team and a research team.
“There’s something for everyone,” research team member Gavin Eeg said.
To see the full story, read the January 10 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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