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Robots inspire innovation among young students

Over the weekend robots took over the Idaho State University Student Union Building during this year’s Livewire Robotics show.

Kids throughout the community packed into the SUB, excited to share in one common passion that unites them – robotics.

“They are just fascinating,” Gabe Wilson said. “These robots (behind me) are designed to pick up one of those balls and throw it into one of those goals and work as a team against another robot.”

Wilson was just one of the kids who attended the show with their families in tow.

His older brother, 11-year old Shane Robison, said he also loves robots and hopes to one day build one with his brother.

Just like any kid, the boys had dreams of building elaborate fighting robots, armed with every possible gadget and weapon you would only see in the movies.

But Shane is unique for an 11-year old, since he has plans to design a robot that could cure cancer.

“Mine would have a little bit of bee venom that kills cells and when it reaches the cancer cells it would hav ea needle that would inject it and kill the cancer cell,” Shane said.

Century High School students Kitanna Belnap and Kip Stahlecker are both team members of the Livewire Robotics team.

Although they seem young, the team is comprised of students as young as high school students.

“We are the community-based Livewire Robotics team here at ISU,” Kitanna said. “Today we are putting on our showcase of our 2014-2013 robots.”

The robots the students are showing-off just took home a slew of national and regional awards this year, but not just because the robots are designed to do cool tricks.

Stahlecker said those awards have more to do with their unique community outreach.

“In our community there just is not enough STEM education and awareness of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” Kip said. “We strive to promote this message … which is spreading this STEM to every kid of every age.”

The team writes their own children’s books about, you guessed it – robots.

The effort to get kids hooked early then progresses past the children’s books to kids building their own Lego robots.

From there, Kip said if they still love it, they can join the Livewire team, which travels nationwide to compete.

In fact, this past year the team’s outreach stretched into the United Arab Emirates, where they formed a Livewire team and helped their students compete as well.

Kip said all of their funding comes from generous donors throughout the community such as businesses and ISU, who donates their rooms and materials to let the students exercise their creative robot-building minds in order for them to become competitive.

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