Millerbots headed to nationals
TANGLETOWN — For the third time since it was founded four years ago, the Washburn High School robotics team is headed to nationals.
The Millerbots will send 10 members from their 30-student squad to compete in the FIRST Robotics Championship April 27–30 in St. Louis. They advanced after winning the North Star Regional held March 31–April 2 at Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
Also joining them at nationals will be teams from Mendota Heights’ Convent of the Visitation School and Detroit Lakes High School who, under the rules of the competition, formed a three-team alliance with the Millerbots at the regional event.
Since it was founded in 1992, the FIRST Robotics Competition has challenged high school students across the country to design, build and program a robot capable of completing a specific task.
“It’s completely different every year, and they keep it a big secret,” said Peter Grul, a Washburn physics teacher who coached the team with Sara Etzel, a Washburn engineering teacher.
This year’s competition called for robots capable of picking up inflated inner tubes and hanging them on pegs.
The robots operate by remote control, but each round of competition includes a brief, preliminary phase when robots operate autonomously. A third phase of the competition follows the main game, when teams release smaller “minibots” that race to climb a metal pole.
“I’d say the addition of the minibot made it more complex, but I like it, because it’s hard to keep 30 kids busy on one robot,” Grul said.
That hadn’t been an issue in the past. The last time the Millerbots qualified for nationals, in 2009, there were only 10 students on the team. But interest in the robotics competition exploded this year, with many new recruits coming from an engineering elective class taught by Etzel.
Medtronic sponsored the Millerbots this year, providing $2,500 in financial support at the beginning of the season and another $2,500 when the team qualified for nationals.
Still, the win set off a fundraising scramble. Previous trips to nationals cost about $10,000, Grul said.
“Parents are stepping up,” he said. “The Washburn Foundation is stepping up.”
Area students in Highpoint exhibition
THE WEDGE — Students from Southwest and Washburn high schools are among the young artists appearing in the ACCESS/PRINT Teen Project Exhibition running April 22–May 7 at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake St.
Southwest’s Maya Powell and Washburn’s Ethan Oscarson were among the four high school-aged artists accepted into the print shop’s fall mentorship program. Work by another four students who participated in the spring program will also be on view in the exhibition.
A free opening reception 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. April 22 will include “kid-friendly” refreshments. Family, friends and teachers were encouraged to attend.
On display at the same time will be the LOOK/SEE Annual Student Exhibition of prints created by students in grades 3–12 who have visited the Highpoint studios throughout the school year. Students from Emerson Spanish Immersion School, the Minneapolis Kids program at Barton Open School and San Miguel Middle School, all located in Southwest, participated in LOOK/SEE this year.
Go to highpointprintmaking.org for more information on the programs or exhibition.
Students’ campaign teaches tolerance
TANGLETOWN — A group of Washburn High School students saw their message of tolerance go up on billboards in Southwest and South Minneapolis in March.
About 20 students in one of Washburn art teacher Nancy Hinz’s classes created three messages for the “Create! Don’t Hate” campaign, a youth mentoring and social action initiative organized Design Ignites Change. The Washburn students worked with college design students and local design professionals to craft visually appealing messages of acceptance and tolerance.
“The highlight of the project was the kids actually got to see their work published, and see a very positive message being communicated to the community,” said Lisa Musselman, former director of volunteers for AIGA Minnesota, an organization of design professionals that collaborated on the project. “For me, it was incredibly rewarding just to be a part of the whole thing.”
The billboards went up at the intersections of East 48th Street and Chicago Avenue South, West 50th Street and Penn Avenue South and West 38th Street and Nicollet Avenue. The students developed nine designs and then, after a critique session with local design professionals, selected the three messages that eventually went on display.