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New London-Spicer's "Minotaur" robotics pro-ject is pictured during a test in December. Tribune file photo

High School League to promote robotics in Minnesota schools

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Robotic competitions are now an extracurricular activity listed by the Minnesota State High School League.

The league made the announcement Thursday at STEM Day at the Minnesota State Fair. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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Robotics competitions are now operated by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

FIRST and the league will work in partnership to promote robotics as an extracurricular activity.

The league will promote the FIRST Robotics Competition among Minnesota high schools and support a state championship. Teams will qualify for the state tournament through regional competitions in March.

The partnership begins at the State Fair with robotics competitions each day during the fair at the Education Building on Cosgrove Street. Robots will be on display throughout the fair.

Teams will test their current year's robots on an obstacle course inside the building. Competitions are scheduled at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. each day.

Some area schools will participate in the competitions: New London-Spicer on Aug. 30, Hutchinson on Aug. 31 and Marshall on Sept. 4. The robotics championship will be decided on Sept. 5, the last day of the fair.

The New London-Spicer High School team has competed in robotics for two years. In its first year, the team was named rookie inspiration of the year in a FIRST Robotics competition.

The FIRST Robotics Competition has 131 teams throughout Minnesota. Five years ago the state had just two teams. The partnership with the High School League should help give robotics the status and statewide cohesiveness to become a mainstream activity in Minnesota's high schools, said the league's executive director Dave Stead in a news release from the league.

Minnesota has the fourth-largest state contingent of teams in the nation and hosts the largest of the more than 50 FIRST Robotics Competition regional events. This event consistently fills Williams and Mariucci arenas on the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus.

In competition, teams students build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors, giving participants a taste of real world engineering. Volunteer professional mentors work with the teams.

--Linda Vanderwerf

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