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Robotics a big deal at small school: Over 1/3 of student body involved

Just 126 students go to class at Mohawk middle and high schools, but nearly 50 of those kids call the robotics classroom home. (SBG)

MARCOLA, Ore. -- They've only been at it for two years, but robotics students from Mohawk middle and high schools are ready to compete on a world stage and the kids are excited.

Advisor and lead instructor Renee Klein says it's like working with big kids toys. The toys in this case are robots with a serious educational mission.

It's a new program the Marcola community has rallied around.

Just 126 students go to class at Mohawk middle and high schools, but nearly 50 of those kids call the robotics classroom home.

Klein says it’s not set up as a standalone course.

“This program is also supported in our computer science program, where they are learning computer programming.,” Klein says, adding they're learning video game design as well.

Now, through a company called VEX, eight youngsters are headed to Louisville, Kentucky this weekend for the Robotics World Championships.

“I’m really excited; honestly, it means like a ton to me,” says eighth grade robotics student Justin Bolton. “Being able just to qualify for worlds just means a lot.”

And if you think robotics is just for a select number of science whiz kids, think again. In the Marcola district, grades 6 through 12, about one third of that total student body are involved in robotics.

“I work with my dad and I like to build a lot, so it's really fun for me,” says eighth grader Kendyle Gormley.

Oregon had only three middle school slots open for the VEX Worlds, and Mohawk qualified two teams.

For Klein, it's the ultimate reward.

“It's so fun for me to see kids come into the program with absolutely zero skills and then be able to go and be competitive and be able to do things that they didn't even know that they could do.”

Klein says the VEX World Championships will be three days of competition involving about 1,400 students from the US and 30 foreign nations.

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