Robo Nuts, a group of robot-building friends from a Cottage Grove neighborhood, teamed to capture the “gracious professionalism award” at the FIRST Lego League state championship event in St. Paul on Feb. 2.

The competition, which requires youngsters to design, build and program Lego robots to execute specific missions, drew more than 60 teams from across the state, including nine from Washington County. Awards were presented in a variety of categories.

For the gracious professionalism honor, teams were nominated by their fellow competitors. One team said of Robo Nuts: “This team was supportive and didn’t laugh at us if we messed up. And they’re fun.”

Teams qualified for the state championship in regional play in December and January.

One local team, REAL Men of Genius, based at Oak-Land Junior High in Lake Elmo, saw coach Jeannie Badger presented with the annual coaches’ award for “extraordinary leadership” and her “positive attitude,” according to event organizers.

REAL Men of Genius also was a finalist for the champion’s award, which went to Robot Squad, a group of friends from Rochester. Robot Squad will be invited to represent Minnesota at the 2013 World Festival in St. Louis, Mo.

As part of the competition, teams not only build and program robots but have other assignments, too, including a research project. The Golden Bricks of Mahtomedi Middle School was a finalist for the innovative solution award linked to its research project.



Tartan students raise money for leukemia

Tartan High School’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) students organized a “pennies for patients” campaign that raised about $2,285 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The money was collected in milk jugs placed in fourth-hour classrooms between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1.

BPA students Cheng Mor Vang, Feng Thao and Cheethum Yang deposited the proceeds daily. The BPA team also oversaw a contest between the fourth-hour classes.

Students in social studies teacher Glenn Hansen’s class returned his classroom to the top spot after a seventh-place finish last year. The students donated $334, according to a North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District news release.

His class will be treated to a cookies and milk party by the BPA students, who run a fresh-baked cookie business at Tartan.

The event came about three weeks after 17 of 20 Tartan BPA members medaled in a regional business competition qualifying them for a state conference in March. The BPA team recorded 11 first-place finishes in the regional event, the school district said.


Forest Lake

School buys piano, thanks to Polaris

Forest Lake Area High School received a $4,800 grant from Polaris Industries Inc. to purchase a Yamaha piano for the school’s choir room.

The piano, a slightly used Yamaha C3 grand piano, is equipped with computer software that can record notes, making it useful for instruction. It previously had been used in the “music theory room” at the University of Minnesota, according to a school district news release.

The school’s previous piano had exceeded its 40-year life span and required increasing amounts of money to fix, the district said.


S. Washington County

District to present budget options

Three meetings have been set to give people a chance to speak about the 2013-14 budget options being presented to the South Washington County school board in March.

The presentations, which will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m., are being held on Monday at Woodbury High School; Thursday at Park High School; and Wednesday, March 6, at East Ridge High School.

The school board is expected to receive a final budget recommendation on March 21.


Anthony Lonetree