Updates & News

This page is for Updates, Newsletters and FIRST Team 3023 in the Media.


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Elk River Star News Wrote an Article about Team 3023!


Above are images that featured in the article.

by Sophia Khori Contributing Writer

The FIRST Robotics Team 3023 at Elk River High School is no regular club.

Team 3023 built a one-of-a-kind, 120-pound robot named Jarvis. Designing, building and programming the robot is a team effort, so the FIRST Robotics Competition is set up to be a true test of science, strategy, creativity, critical thinking and teamwork.

The team of more than 20 students is fresh off its best year after taking part in two regional competitions for the first time: one at the University of Minnesota and the other at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The Elk River team finished ninth out of 63 teams, which include some of the biggest in the state, as there are no districts or divisions.

“This is the best we ever finished,” head coach Mark Durand said. “It was a very impressive season. I was really proud of them.”

Preparation begins with the start of school in the fall. From September through December, the team meets once a week to develop skills team members will use in their sub-teams, including programing, electrical, design, 3-D printing, manufacturing, building and marketing.

When the season is in full swing in January, the team enters its build season and spends about three hours a day constructing a robot.

“Our motto is ‘Make it work,’” Durand said.

Teams get 6 1/2 weeks to build, which amounts to four weeks to build and then a couple more to drive it, break it and fix it.

“They don’t have to break it, but they do learn from that,” Durand said.

The goal is to build a robot that can meet the year’s new challenge, which included climbing a rope this year. During this time the team will “analyze the game, come up with a strategy, design a robot to compete with that strategy, and then build, wire, program and test drive the robot,” Durand said.

Among the laundry list of skills honed through robotics, “something that you don’t always notice is there’s a lot of public speaking,” Durand noted.

“There’s a component where the students have to present and get judged on how well they can talk about their team and what the team is doing for the community,” Durand said.

Durand presented a recap of Team 3023’s efforts at the Elk River Area School Board meeting last month.

Two years ago he came to the School Board with a vision, an idea and “kind of a dream, really,” he said.

Growth has followed. Durand highlighted the growth of the FIRST Robotics program districtwide. He said the district has gone from one high school team and a couple of lower level teams to having a mix of 14 teams in the elementary and middle schools in addition to the ERHS team.

The hope is also to add a second high school team at either Rogers or Zimmerman high school, if a few hurdles can be cleared.

There are four FIRST programs available in the state, including FIRST Junior Lego League for K-3, FIRST Lego League for 4-6, FIRST Tech Challenge for 7-12 and FIRST Robotics Competitions for high school students.

Next year, the district will double the number of FIRST Junior Lego League programs from six to 12 and add a FIRST Tech Challenge team to bring the total to five.

“We’d have 20 FIRST Lego League teams if we had enough coaches and resources,” Durand said. “We have more interest than coaches and resources.”

He said when freshmen join the team, they come in unsure of themselves and their abilities.

“After the first year, they have a sense they can create their own future,” Durand said. “They develop amazing self-confidence.”

Another way Team 3023 would specifically like to build is by using tools like PayPal or GoFundMe to facilitate online fundraising or a pledge program. However, Durand said the team has many supporters, including the Lions Club, M&M Precision Machining, ERMC and Great River Energy. He said those businesses and the community group have made this year’s success and growth possible.

School Board Member Jamie Plantenberg-Selbitschka said thank you to Durand after the presentation.

“You have unlocked a whole new world for a whole bunch of kiddos,” she said. “It’s a new connection point for kids and it’s relevant. It’s so cool.”


This is a New feature for our Team and Updates will be coming soon. 🙂


This is a New feature for our Team and Newsletters will be coming soon. 🙂