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LHS robotics team eyes return to Great Northern Regional competition in March

Lead Summary
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Mavis Fodness

With a successful small robot competition behind them, the Luverne High School robotics team is preparing for the tournament that inspired the team’s creation two years ago.
The Great Northern Regional will be March 24-26 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
In 2020 Luverne earned the “Rookie Inspiration Award” at the event during the team’s first-ever season.
Two years later, the LHS robotics students, who call themselves the “Mighty Morphing Banana Slugs,” is starting anew.
“Last year was a gap year — we didn’t get any new bodies in,” said adviser Aaron Perkins. “It was hard to get students’ interests due to the season being virtual.”
Now back to in-person competitions, LHS has 30 to 40 students interested in working on the robots.
They made a successful 2022 debut at the small robot competition in Burnsville Jan. 16. The robots were under 12 inches in width, height and length.
The two LHS teams finished 10th (record 4-2) and 12th (record 3-3) overall out of 28 teams. They were also the third-place winners for the Connect Award and placed second and third for the Motivate Awards.
The Grand Forks competition features large robots, which have a maximum height of 4 feet, 6 inches and a perimeter under 120 inches.
“The goal of that robot is to shoot balls and then have the robot climb and move across monkey bars,” Perkins said.
“We are still fundraising for the season and would appreciate any assistance we could get.”
The LHS team received a boost recently as a grand recipient for a $50,000 aluminum computerized numerical control (CNC) machine from the Stratasys. The CNC machine allows the students to manufacture parts for the robot rather than ordering the expensive parts, Perkins said.
“We are very excited to be using this technology,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for students to use some equipment that they might only be able to use at very large universities.”
The industrial CNC machine joins several pieces of equipment used throughout the school and is available to the robotics team.
As a fundraiser, the robotics team is working on how to recycle glass bottles and use the material in the 3D printer.
“I received a grant from Toshiba of America to work on a micro-recycling center,” Perkins said.
“It has been a slow process but I think we are on the correct path to working out all the bugs, and we should be able to have ornaments and other items made from recycled glass soon.”
Perkins said more adults are volunteering to advise students on how to build and program the large robots ahead of the March competition.
“We have the base frame built,” Perkins said. “We have to figure out how to have the robot do the monkey bars.”