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Let's Visit Kelliher School: Bog Bots Robotics Team

Kelliher School serves nearly 300 students in kindergarten thru twelfth grade.  It’s a small school with a huge personality.  In this segment of Let’s Visit, discover some of the magic happening in Kelliher School- an active robotics team, classroom cattle, hydroponic gardening, community projects to make the world healthier and safer, and a fabrication lab that fuses art class with shop class turning kids’ design dreams into reality.  The innovative, often student-driven learning experiences cultivated at Kelliher School are inspiring. 

In just a couple weeks, on the first Saturday in January, robotics teams around the world will gather to simultaneously discover what their mission for the 2020 season will be. The 2019 season tasked teams with building remote controlled robots that could lift, transfer and deposit large discs and orbs from one part of a playing field to another.  To accrue even more competition points, the robot could be built to climb stairs.  In this segment we hear from team members and coaches during their last practice of the 2019 season. 

There's such a sense of camaraderie with everybody…One of the fascinating things for me to see is this kind of sequential thinking, because the robot won't let you lie and won't let you fudge… If you do something a little bit wrong, it just won't work. And so, to see the kids figure out step-by-step they have to kind of figure out where the signal is coming from, back it way up to the original part and test every part of that signal. And, just that process is huge. I think that lots of life, even though we don't realize it, we'll see symptoms of problems and we will attribute them to the wrong causes. And so, in order to kind of test things and figure them out, you have to back up a few stages. - Eric Carlson, Bog Bots Coach

Communication, teamwork, positivity, problem solving and curiosity-driven learning are essential elements of a successful robotics team.  “Coopertition” and “gracious professionalism” are two aspects specific to FIRST Robotics competitions that aren’t necessarily as visible or apparent in other high school competitions…

A good example of that is our rookie year. One of our tasks was to make the robot climb up a rope. In one of our matches, our rope broke. And when we got back to our pit, which is kind of our staging area, there were five teams with new ropes for us...They saw the rope broke and they said this team needs help. We didn't know most of the teams that brought those ropes, and that was super cool.  It's what you do…you help each other out. – Susan Wachler, Bog Bots coach 

The Kelliher Bog Bots understand that each person brings a unique set of strengths to the team and work effectively to use those skills in order to best serve the group.  

Strategy…and I feel like in some sports when things get hard… you kind of separate from the team. But when we're doing it we kind of have to stay as a team because if we don't, then it's a mess. Daniel – member of the Bog Bots  team.

Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. She returned for a second stint in 2016-23. She produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota.