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Duluth robotics team rallies, but loses national contest

Archie, the Duluth East Daredevils robotics team's robot, stumbled and died at the national competition in St. Louis on Friday. "Archie was as sick of a robot as I've ever seen," said Tim Velner, science curriculum coordinator for the Duluth scho...

Duluth East Daredevils
Duluth East Daredevils robotics team

Archie, the Duluth East Daredevils robotics team's robot, stumbled and died at the national competition in St. Louis on Friday.

"Archie was as sick of a robot as I've ever seen," said Tim Velner, science curriculum coordinator for the Duluth schools and team's coach.

The robot shut down for a time. He was sluggish. The team couldn't get him up to speed. They lost round after round.

"Once you're robot dies, it's over for that match," Velner said.

Moreover, they were up against the best of the best robots created by high school science whizzes around the country as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia and Israel for the national FIRST Robotics Competition. The competition included the robot's picking up inner tube-like rings and placing them on hooks nearly 10 feet off the ground for points, at first moving autonomously, then controlled by the students from the sidelines.

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"Robots here are so good, you just don't have the luxury of making a mistake," Velner said.

But the 4-year-old Duluth East team -- which won two of the competition's regional championships -- persisted. They figured out what was ailing the robot they built themselves. They got Archie fixed.

The deflated team spirit surged back Saturday, as Archie rallied in the final day of competition.

Although the team, which has 28 members, made it to the finals in their division Saturday, they didn't survive the elimination rounds to get to the championship round.

"We got defeated by a steller team," Velner said.

Still, Duluth East Daredevils finished strong, winning their last two rounds. They started the day in 74th place and ended it in 42nd place out 351 teams.

"We are fantastic, we are so pumped that we even made it this far," said team member Kirsi Kuutti. "It's a great learning experience."

Will they be back next year?

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"Oh yes, we are definitely going to be back here next year," she said with confidence. "We worked so hard. We've learned from the competition. It will make us even better. We are ready for next year."

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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