CARNEY, Mich. (WLUC) - The Carney-Nadeau Wolf Robotics works out of a room that they share with a couple other groups also doing extracurricular activities. When I walked into the room the team was just hanging around waiting for me because I was about 15 minutes late. As soon as I walked in everyone was wanting to start doing things. Show me the trophies. What did I want to see? When would this air? These folks are enthusiastic.
We figured out a plan of attack and got started. Interviews first.
The first person I really spoke with was Forrest Tickler. First off, points for a great name. Forrest said, and the head mentor confirmed this, that Forrest is the guy you ask to get something if you need it. Duct tape? Ask Forrest. 6mm flange grabber? Ask Forrest. He is the Go-To guy. I asked him how things had gone for the team?
"This was our first year and we actually achieved something that was awesome and we are like surprised and happy." Did I mention that Forrest is in 6th Grade. I didn't know 6th graders participated in robotics but Forrest sure does.
This team has only been around since December and they really only came into existence because of a chance of fate involving a grant. It's kind of convoluted but if you want to know about how the team came to be and it's 5 month history you should ask the head mentor, Eric Janofski and he can do the story justice. Janofski didn't have any experience in robotics when he agreed to take on forming the team. He has a background in technology so he is kind of in the ballpark but not robotics. But as Janofski told me, "When you live in a small community you kind of have to make your own opportunities."
He saw an opportunity for the kids and so far it has paid off.
The second team member I spoke with was 9th grader Andy Corrigan. If this kid isn't the Mayor out here in 20 years I'll eat my hat. Not even sure if they have a Mayor in Carney but you know what I'm saying.
I've heard a lot of good things about robotics and when I asked Andy what his favorite thing about robotics is his answer was the best thing I've heard anyone say about robotics yet.
"My favorite part is how it's not a competition between teams. I mean it is but if something breaks on somebody else's robot, they're not going to say "Oh that's too bad for you". They're gonna come and help you out as much as you can and that's what's great about this program."
If that's not something you're proud to hear your kid say then I don't know what is.
There was only one team member that had any robotics experience when they started. Cole Tebo had moved from Stephenson where he had learned about robotics. His story is a good one for everyone who thinks that no body is paying attention when you're talking about something or doing a demonstration.
"Escanaba's team came and gave a demonstration in Stephenson so I seen there 2015 bot for recycle rush and I said "Hey, that's pretty cool. I wanna do that." and so he did. Thanks to the Robomos doing a demonstration in Stephenson 3 years ago Wolf Robotics has a driver. Circle of life you know.
The team has competed a few times now and has won several rookie awards. But none is bigger for them than the one that punched their tickets to the World Championship. Which, apparently, is called about 12 different things but I'm going with World Championship.
"By winning the state rookie all star award we got a straight ticket to worlds." said Janofski, "Teams from all over the world. We're going to be competing in alliances with teams that most likely won't speak english so it's going to be a great experience for the kids."
Which brings us to what I think may be the biggest benefit of robotics. I asked several of the team members what they wanted to do when they were older. I got answers like "Be an engineer", "Work in technology." and "Be a programmer." Sometimes it's tough to feel good about the future these days but I felt pretty good after hearing those answers.
But they have St. Louis and the World Championship coming up first.
If you'd like to help get them there they are having a fundraising dinner this Saturday in Carney at the American Legion Post. A good old U.P. Spaghetti feed with all the fixin's. It's from 2pm to 7pm on Saturday and it's $8 for adults and kids under 5 eat free.