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Senator Klobuchar visits the Nevis Tech-No Tigers

Members of the team including, from left, Nicole Bayman, Autumn Vogel, Dawson Andress, Megan Geraedts, Michael Wegscheid, Tom Aman, Shannon McGrath, Sierra Wroolie, Kaia Dunham, Maddie Mitchell, Lyssie Byer, Isaac Pizzaro, John Merila, Anna Hennagir, Paco Catrejon, Matt McNamara and Wyatt Tauber pose with Senator Klobuchar and the team's robot, "Big Bobby B" built for the 2017 FIRST Steamworks Robotics Competition. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)1 / 5
With the help of senior, Isaac Pizzaro, Senator Klobuchar successfully pilots one of the team's robots. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)2 / 5
Senator Klobuchar poses for a selfie with members of Team 3102. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)3 / 5
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar meets with members of the FRC Team 3102: Nevis Tech-No Tigers Robotics Team at Nevis High School on Wednesday. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise) 4 / 5
John Merila (standing) and Isaac Pizzaro show Senator Klobuchar the workings of their robot from last year, Bob Ross. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)5 / 5

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar stopped by Nevis High School to visit the FRC Team 3102: Nevis Tech-No-Tigers Robotics Team as part of her Rural Economy Tour across Northern Minnesota, which began Tuesday.

Over two days, Klobuchar joined with local leaders, businesses and education communities in 10 counties to highlight her legislation and initiatives to strengthen Minnesota's workforce.

To give Klobuchar an idea of what their team has accomplished this season, the Chairman's Team, which is comprised of three team members, presented their six minute presentation that they had prepared for the 2017 FIRST Championship Chairman's Award, which recognizes the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.)

"This season has been a year of incredible growth for 3102 and we are realizing the culture potential that we create in our small northern community," team member Tom Aman said. "To further this potential we crafted a list of empowering 'we will' statements to provide blueprints for motivation and sustainability."

Another team member, Lyssie Byer, explained to Klobuchar that their motto, "we will build unlimited vision, innovative thinkers, lifelong confidence and dynamic solutions" was set to build their team continually upward and achieve more.

"When our team began nine years ago, we faced geographic isolation with the majority of FRC teams located in urban areas 200 miles away," Byer said. "Over the past nine years we have used local media, speaking engagements and 3102 sponsored activities to educate those in our area. That combined with the help of the Nevis School District, 3102 and FIRST programs have become a recognized and respected activity in our area."

Byer added, "Team 3102 has directly impacted approximately 250 students with STEM curriculum. Our school board and administration have been supportive and allowed our robotics team to design and implement a curriculum and put it in the classrooms with teacher support."

In grades 4th, 6th and 8th, they have used LEGO and VEX programs and an elementary hour of code in grades 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th and a high school robotics elective.

Increasing a greater focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in the classroom is one of Senator Klobuchar's initiatives. She believes it is essential to building an innovation economy. She also believes that in order to continue global leadership in science and technology research and development, students must receive the best training and education in math and science to compete with students in growing economies around the world and that the economic future depends on a highly-skilled and competitive workforce.

Senator Klobuchar has been a leader in Congress on issues of economic innovation. In 2015, she and U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced that legislation they introduced to bolster STEM education passed the House and Senate as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2015. The bill included the senators' provisions to promote STEM education and training.

This will improve students' access to STEM education by allowing school districts to award funding to create a STEM-focused specialty or enhance an existing STEM program.

Team member Shannon McGrath explained to Senator Klobuchar that she helped start a FIRST Ladies group at 3102. Of the 32 members on Team 3102, 19 are females. FIRST Ladies is a community of young women involved in FIRST robotics programs, this group was created to provide a place for young women on the teams to be heard, receive support, make international connections and discover new opportunities as a female in STEM.

Klobuchar informed the students that in January, her bipartisan bills to encourage, recruit and support women in STEM fields were signed into law by President Donald Trump. The bills authorize the NASA Administrator to encourage women to study STEM and pursue careers in aerospace through NASA initiatives, as well as build on existing efforts by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase women's participation in STEM education and research by expanding those efforts to help recruit and support women in STEM fields.

Team 3102 also demonstrated how their robots operated and invited Klobuchar to drive one herself.

"Whatever you think would be the easiest," she said, joking with the students. "There's bad stories of politicians looking stupid doing things, you want to pick something that's the least embarrassing."

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