Did you know that there are currently more FIRST Robotics teams in the state of Minnesota than there are hockey teams?
And Chesterton Academy just joined the growing list of participating high schools with their new team, TechNo Logic! With help from parents and faculty, a team of students will fundraise, build a robot, and compete with other teams this spring by programming it to perform tasks against other robots in an intense arena competition. “It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get,” boasts the FIRST website.
Mr. Jim Burke, one of the team’s parent leaders and an engineer and supervisor at 3M, helped the team secure the $6,000 rookie registration fee through a grant from NASA, and an extra $3,500 for materials thanks to 3M Gives. The team must also create a brand for themselves, manage their funds, and efficiently designate roles to the team members — and that’s all before they build the robot!
Clearly, engineering and technological skills play a big part in the team’s activities; but as Burke notes, running the team also requires communication and leadership skills, the ability to manage funds efficiently, and other skills completely unrelated to the actual building of the robot. “There’s a whole business side of the team that is not math and science based . . . we hope to involve a large number of kids through various tasks,” said Mr. Burke. Part-time tasks associated with the team include photography and videography, accounting or budgeting, and eventually website creation.
“It’s not just going to help them learn engineering skills. This is something they can put on their resume for much more than just the science aspect of it,” Mr. Burke said.
Currently there are young men and women from both the St. Paul and Edina campuses participating. The build season starts on January 6th, and the team is in great need of tools to start building their robot, as well as additional funds. Please contact Jim Burke at (651-270- 7613) if you would like to donate or loan tools. Other adult volunteers leading the team include parents Bill Lambrecht, Tim Heeren, and Chesterton Academy faculty member James Broberg.