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Bay View robotics team honored at board meeting

By Ben Rodgers

SUAMICO – A team of students who excel at all things robotics were honored Monday, May 20, at the Howard-Suamico school board meeting.

BB6, a robotics team of eighth-graders from Bay View Middle School, was in attendance to be honored for taking three first-place finishes at the 2019 VEX Robotics World Competition this April in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Building was a long process,” said Jonathon Pufal, BB6 member. “We started with basic bots on the VEX website and we eventually modified them.”

The team built six modified robots, each designed to do specific tasks, like picking up colored cones and stacking them.

VEX gives students a basic robot design, which they modify to produce better results for challenges.

“I program an autonomous run, which runs without any driving, and this is all done prior to the completion on a computer using a form of C++ coding,” said Eloise Masee, BB6 member.

Masee also took a stock robot controller (not very different from a video game controller) and wrote more than 200 lines of code to program basic commands like moving side to side and using a lift arm.

The team was judged on efficiency, time to complete tasks and errors that might occur, like crossing into a neutral zone or dropping cones.

BB6 competed against teams from around the world, including South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Mexico.

To get to the world competition, BB6 had to succeed at regional and state competitions.

The club is an extra-curricular activity and students put in time after school and on the weekends, working on robots and programming.

Other BB6 members include JJ Berg, Ian Selissen and Ethan Swim. The team has a mentor/coach in Kurt Prien, a technology engineering instructor at Bay View.

In other news, the school board informally ranked the seven characteristics of the district’s new profile of a graduate.

The profile of a graduate consists of skills the district wants students to possess upon high school graduation.

“If everything is important, nothing is important,” said Superintendent Damian LaCroix. “So we really depend on feedback from you to help in terms of where we put time, energy and emphasis.”

The board took an anonymous poll in real time from their computers where members ranked each characteristic in order of most important to less important.

The top skill was communicator, followed by collaborator, responsible, self-starter, critical thinker, adaptable and finally solutionist.

“I think this is a reflective process,” LaCroix said. “We can share these results and you can come back and affirm these (at the next meeting) on June 10.”

The district has already rolled out a pilot assessment to gauge these traits in elementary students.

For the new assessment, educators will sit with students in small groups and observe how they address a problem and come up with a solution as individuals, using the seven skills of the graduate profile.

The hope is in three to five years district-wide assessments will take place for students in all grade levels across the entire curriculum.

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