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Nevis robotics team places 5th at Sanford Center

The Nevis Tech No Tigers finished their season with an in-person competition against 23 other teams Saturday in Bemidji, one of the few such events in the country.

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The Nevis Tech No Tigers’ robot shoots a ball at the Bemidji conference. (Jillian Gandsey / Forum News Service)

This new event, “The Chairman’s Conference Scrimmage,” was hosted by the Northern Minnesota Robotics Conference. A total of 500 fans attended the event in person with many more watching on Twitch.

A strong finish

“At the end of the qualifying matches, the top three blue teams and the top three red teams were the alliance captains for their respective colors,” robotics mentor Kay Netteberg said. “Nevis was in second for the blue teams, and following the final matches ended in fifth place overall. Many of these kids had never even seen a match. To be part of this event was a really big opportunity for them. And our four returning members were all on the field.”

In the finals, Nevis was paired with CSI out of Becker, Minn. and Thunder Robotics out of Hatton, N.D.

She said the staff at the Sanford Center played a big role in the event’s success. “With COVID, we were really excited that we were able to pull off this competition,” she said. “It was smooth, it was professional, it was very safe. For some teams, this was their first live competition in two years.”

For senior Reese Kline it was a chance to finish his robotics career with a live event.

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“He ended on a good note with getting to pick the alliance for the finals,” she said. “I’m glad he got to compete one more time.”

Nevis provided the field for the competition. The robotics team and mentor Olaf Netteberg’s shop class also built and painted all of the other elements for the field. Mentors were part of a team that helped set up and take down the fields as well.

Life lessons

Kay Netteberg said that robotics teaches much more than computer programming and building a robot.

During the Bemidji event, there were problems with the robot’s ball-shooting mechanism jamming.

“They were able to problem solve in the pit and come up with some solutions,” she said. “Kids learn so much about working together as a team, coming up with strategies.”

Dealing with the stress of competition is another learning experience for team members.

“You have to work on the fly,” she said. “There are deadlines and timelines.”

They also learn about failure.

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“Things fail,” she said. “You can’t just throw up your hands. You have to go back out there and figure it out.”

One thing that failed during this competition was the ball shooter. “Balls were jamming and they couldn’t shoot,” she said. “They had to pull the robot off the field and had 10 minutes to fix it.

It turned out a piece they had put in to fix it before the match wasn’t thick enough. It wasn’t pushing the balls out hard enough, so they got jammed. They had to find a heavier piece. You can’t make any points if you can’t shoot the ball. These competitions help kids build grit and resilience. It’s hard. You have to learn to troubleshoot and problem solve.”

Team members are already looking forward to next year. “I already had kids asking me if we were having practice this week,” she said. “I told them no but they’ve already got a list of things they want to work on.”

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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