ROBOT RUMBLE: Minutebots team scores slot in international compe - FOX 32 News Chicago

ROBOT RUMBLE: Minutebots team scores slot in international competition

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A group of high school students from St. Paul are preparing for a major mechanical engineering competition -- but although they may be underdogs, they proved that hard work pays off.

Tucked in the back of Central High School, students are not only working on a robot, but they're beating the odds. It's only their second season, but the Central Robotics Minutebots team has grown from 5 students to 19 thanks in large part to their coach, John Lavik.

"I got involved because I'm a tinkerer at heart," he explained. "I've been interested in robotics for some time and thought I would try my hand at building a robot."

Lavik new some high school students would share his interest, which is why he stepped in after learning that -- unlike other schools across the state and country -- Central High School did not have a FIRST Robotics Team.

FIRST is a worldwide organization that is focused on encouraging engineering and tech involvement as a normal part of life, but it's not just appealing to science and math buffs. The team at Central High School includes a former gang member and those working on remedial studies in order to graduate as well as students enrolled in advanced classes.

Despite being called the rookie underdogs, the team's talent recently earned them a spot at an international competition where they must meet the challenge of creating a robot that can move around and use a ball to score points.

Now, the students are fine-tuning their creation for a state competition with help from several mentors and 3M engineers -- but many of the students hope this is just the start of something bigger. For that reason, Lavik says the project is already a success.

"I am very proud of these kids," he said. "They have done an amazing amount of work in a short time."

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