FHS robotics to make state debut | News, Sports, Work


ABOVE: Students and mentors on the Fairmont High School robotics team work with their robot during a regional competition in Duluth. The team will bring its own robot to compete in the state competition on May 6th and 7th.

FAIRMONT – For the first time, Fairmont High School robotics team will declare. The team’s outstanding performance at the Duluth Regional Northern Lights competition in early March, in which it ranked fourth out of 53 teams, led to the state invitation.

Sam Viesselman, a leading team mentor, explained that a universal scoring system was used and that there were six races across the state, so they would not know for sure if they would qualify until all events were over. The top 36 of the 190 teams in Minnesota would go to the state race.

The Fairmont team finished in 5th place in the points system.

The state competition will take place May 6 and 7 at the Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.

“They are turning the basketball court into a robotic playground. “All the spectators sit in the seats as if watching a collegiate basketball game.” tha Viesselman.

The Fairmont team consists of about 14 students in grades 9 through 12. Viesselman said they knew there was a good chance they would finish after the Duluth competition in early March. As they continue, the team has continued to practice several times a week to adjust and upgrade its robot.

Viesselman hopes all students and mentors can take part in the state competition, though he noted that it is a busy time in the school year. He said about 85 percent of robotics students are also into a spring sport.

All robotics teams are in FIRST robotics, so everyone has had the same challenge this year. FIRST stands for the inspiration and recognition of science and technology. However, the state competition is through the Minnesota State High School League.

“I think what ‘s really interesting about the state high school league that has a state robotics competition is that they are elevating that part of science and technology as if it’s just as important as any other high school activity. . “ tha Viesselman.

He said that although it is not a traditional sport, there are leagues of speaking, knowledge and math and he would like to see robotics reach the same level of foundation and respect as it is just as important.

Viesselman noted that there are no classes in robotics as much as single or double AA, so the team has been facing teams from much larger school districts. He said that with robotics it is not so much the size of your school or team, but the strength of its problem-solving skills.

“A small group of dedicated people who have some good ideas and good work ethic can put something in the field that is just as competitive as the big schools.” he said.

In fact the Greenbush Middle River School district, from a small town in northern Minnesota with about 800 residents, ranks first in the state. Viesselman said they have won numerous state championships.

Some other schools that follow the state include St. Peter and the Maple River.

Viesselman said that normally the Fairmont team would have qualified for the world competition, which will take place in Houston, TX, but due to Covid restrictions fewer teams are being accepted this year.

Speaking about the importance and significance of a school activity like robotics, Viesselman said, “All the great things you get from sports, how to work together, endurance and dedication, you get all those things, but you’re also learning real-world skills that you can apply in a future career.”

This is true of Fairmont student Aiden Nelson, who has been on the team since his 7th grade year. Now a teenager, Nelson said he plans to pursue an STEM education after completing his high school years.

Nelson said he has many good memories with the team to be counted on, but the most exciting was such a high ranking in the Dululth competition.

“I can not wait to be able to compete against some of the best teams and see how other teams from across the country are doing.” said Nelson.

Second student Amanda Poette was a new addition to the team this year. Poetter revealed that she was actually offered a media job for the robotics team, so she manages the team’s social media sites and website, in addition to building and operating the robot.

“I have always been part of STEM programs and STEM camps, so they have always been a pervasive thing throughout my school career.” said the poet.

She expressed enthusiasm that she managed to declare during her first year on the team and shared that she plans to continue to be on the team for the next school year.

The Fairmont High School robotics team started in 2009. It is a partner with Project 1590 subcommittee Martin County KnowHow and is sponsored by area businesses and foundations.

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