Saturday, May 11, 2019

Minnesota Student Robotics Team Invited to White House

Interesting piece from Center for Digital Education:

Minnesota Robotics Students Invited to White House

Farmington High School’s team of robotic students modified a wheelchair to fit the needs of a disabled child and the project caught the attention of aides organizing first lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” event.

(TNS) — Farmington High School’s Rogue Robotics team is on a roll.
The media buzz from the team’s Project Cillian — they built a modified wheelchair for a disabled Farmington boy — grew so loud it reached the White House.
Earlier this week, coach Spencer Elvebak got a call from aides organizing first lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” event, asking if he could come to Washington on Tuesday to be recognized for the project.
Elvebak was floored.
“The kids are all ecstatic about it,” he said.
“I cried,” said Cami Schachtele, 17, who builds field elements for the team’s robot competition. “It’s been a running joke with the team saying, ‘What if we get invited to the White House?’ When they told us we were, it was the most surreal thing.”
Equally stunned is Kynde Zachow-Archibald, 39, of Burnsville. Just four weeks ago she and husband Jeremy Archibald were trying to patch together a wheelchair from a store-bought Power Wheels toy that would allow her 5-year-old son Rocco Zachow-Rodriguez to play in the backyard with his siblings. Rocco was born with a form of dwarfism called Diastrophic dysplasia, a bone and cartilage disorder.
His arms were too short to work a regular Power Wheel car, and his parents weren’t able to modify one for him.
Around that time, Farmington’s robotic team was getting famous. A few TV interviews launched them into the national spotlight. A KARE-TV spot by Boyd Huppert posted on Facebook caught Zachow-Archibald’s attention. Desperate, she posted in the comments about her struggle with Rocco.
“One of the students reached out,” she said. “Now Rocco’s getting a cool chair out of the deal.”
And a trip to the White House where the team will present the chair to Rocco.
“I was blown away when Spencer called,” she said about learning they were invited to Washington. “I would never have imagined that. I was on board immediately.”

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