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Robotics teams from Duluth East and Denfeld High Schools hosted the FIRST Robotics 2014 Season Kickoff at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where members learned more about this year’s game.

It’s called Aerial Assist and the goal is to build a robot that can get one of two large air-filled exercise balls into one of two goals. A lower goal yields one point and an upper goal yields ten points. Extra points can be made by passing the ball between alliance robots.

Bill Gronseth

Bill Gronseth

Speakers at the event included Duluth Public Schools Superintendent Bill Gronseth, UMD Department Head and Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Stan Burns and Daredevil Alumnus Kirsi Kuutti.

“I can feel the energy in the room,” said Gronseth, who talked about the impact of FIRST students in the world and how they are prepared for the work place because of their creativity in solving complex problems. “The first step toward a good career is robotics.”

Kirsi Kuutti, former Duluth East Daredevils team captain, spoke about her internship at NASA this summer. She was chosen for this opportunity due in part to her participation in FIRST Robotics. Kuuti said three skills sought by NASA are also emphasized in FIRST — gracious professionalism, productivity and communication skills.

Teams will have 6 1/2 weeks to strategize the game, design, build, program and test their robots before competing in March. Competition for Denfeld and Duluth East will begin March 7-8 at the DECC. Denfeld will compete in the Lake Superior Regional and the Daredevils will compete in the Northern Lights Regional.

Duluth Public Schools Notebook

. The Denfeld High School Shoreliners Dance Team competed in Belle Plaine and took home trophies for the third weekend in a row, placing 2nd in Junior Varsity Jazz and 3rd in Varsity Jazz.

. Emma Knettel, Congdon Park Elementary, was the champ at the Congdon Park spelling bee and then went on to take first place in the Eastern Sectional held at Ordean-East.

. Four students from Lowell Elementary will be part of the University of Wisconsin-Superior Twin Ports K-12 Art Exhibition January 30-March 13. Congratulations to Sawyer Rust, Kalyn Shatto, Alex Shoots and Denali Kovach. A reception will be held at UWS on Thursday, March 13 from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., with a recognition ceremony at 6 p.m.

. The Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation has selected Duluth Public Schools Transportation Manager Ken Willms as the 2013 MAPT Administrator of the Year. He will receive this honor at the Minnesota School Bus Safety Expo in St. Paul on Friday. MAPT is a non-profit association of school transportation professionals and industry leaders who promote safe and efficient student transportation. The award recognizes Ken’s leadership and excellence in the area of student transportation. Willms has worked in student transportation for over 30 years, nearly 25 of them as a manager. He serves as Region 4 Director for MAPT and is a former Secretary and President of MAPT.

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