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Students build sumo wrestling robots

Nineteen youths spent two days building robots through the Robo Storm Summer Camp at Northwest Technical College-Bemidji. The event culminated with a robotic battle. From left, Brady Duff, 12, Nick Lockner, 11, and Broc Waldhausen, 12, prepare to turn on their computer-programmed lego robots Wednesday afternoon. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - A robot fighting competition wrapped up a local summer camp Wednesday afternoon.

The Robo Storm Summer Camp, held Tuesday and Wednesday at Northwest Technical College, provided 19 sixth- through eighth-grade campers the opportunity to build Lego robots and program them with Lego Mindstorm software.

"They built the robots using their own design," Camp Coordinator Gwen Oster said. "They have guidelines to follow and we give them three templates, but all of them added their own design."

The campers spent Tuesday creating robots to shoot ping pong balls, while the robots designed Wednesday were sumo wrestling robots. The sumo wrestling robots wrestled each other in a double-elimination competition.

Brock Waldhausen, 12, and Tye Allen, 12, were teammates for the camp and winners of Tuesday's ping pong ball shooting competition.

"It's been a lot of fun," Waldhausen said. "It's very interesting. They were fun to program."

The duo won against every team during preliminary competition with its sumo wrestling robot, Waldhausen said.

"I did the camp last year and thought it was a lot of fun, so I came back," Allen said. "It's really interesting. It's a lot of trial and error."

Andrew Dahlen, robotics instructor for the camp, said the goal of the camp is to give the students an opportunity to see what it might be like to have a career in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field.

"This is something I wish I would have had as a kid," Dahlen said. "We're giving them an exposure to STEM-related ideas. So much of what they do in school is standards-related, so we're hoping this will spark an idea in the kids."

The campers also toured AirCorps Aviation Wednesday to learn about the company.

"We watched how they take apart the aircraft, draw it up and then put it back together," Oster said.

Dahlen said the purpose of touring AirCorps was to expose the campers to a career similar to what they've learned at the camp.

"It gives them a taste of where this could go," Dahlen said. "When they see it's a job they could have, it interests them in this even more."

The camp was sponsored by Northwest Technical College, Northland Community & Technical College and 360°.