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Calvin Bateman, Nathaniel Barrett and Andrew Baldwin operate their Lego robot. Their project examined safe routes to school in Park Rapids. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)
Calvin Bateman, Nathaniel Barrett and Andrew Baldwin operate their Lego robot. Their project examined safe routes to school in Park Rapids. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Youth utilize Lego robotics to examine transportation issues in area

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Hubbard County 4-H youth learned about effective transportation this year as they built complicated Lego robots.

Two robotics teams met for more than 60 hours total this fall to create projects about transportation. They were asked to identify a transportation concern in the community and use a Lego robot to complete a game.

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Mark Haugen, Hubbard County 4-H program coordinator, said this year was fun because the students were very interested in the projects.

A regional competition in northern Minnesota recently had 17 teams.

"There was a lot of growth from last year in the number of teams," he said.

Judges look at three areas: research, programming and the game. The junior team was awarded the outstanding research project at the competition.

Teams built the robot, programmed it and practiced operating it as they met at least 30 times this fall. An upstairs room at WindoWorld shared by Northview Lending Services was made available for the robot lab during the fall.

Jack Bateman and Caitlin Wall were part of the junior team. Their presentation included information on invasive species and preventing the spread of water milfoil.

They met with someone from the Department of Natural Resources to learn more about the concern of invasive species traveling from lake to lake by attaching to boats.

"The DNR brought in some samples and there were so many species," Bateman said. "I didn't know there were so many."

They thought it was fun to see other projects at the competition.

Calvin Bateman, Nathaniel Barrett and Andrew Baldwin were on the senior team. They decided to tackle the issue of safe transportation to school in Park Rapids with two major highways (71 and 34) running through town. The team met with the city planner to get more information.

Their transportation project was imaginative. They decided a giant hamster ball could be used to transport kids safely to school.

Having competed last year, Barrett said it was easier to figure out some of the work. However, the set up was also different from last year.

"It was pretty cool," Baldwin said of the competition. "Some of the teams had some really unique robots."

Gunnar Larson and Kaiden Berg also participated in the Lego robotics competition.

Haugen said the senior team did an excellent job in that they worked almost completely on their own, without help from adults.

"They had to work on troubleshooting and solving problems together," Haugen said.

The kids continue to be interested in robotics and some of the parent volunteers who helped this fall will lead a technology club after the holidays.

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