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      Robots take over Indian Hills, controlled by high school students

      Students throughout Iowa gathered at Indian Hills Community College Saturday to battle it out, with robots.

      The robots were built by the students and funded through grants by the state and businesses.

      The team from Ottumwa High School that participated in the program received grants from John Deere.

      The purpose of this entire event, to get students involved in engineering and math, two areas of focus that corporations in Iowa are looking for when it comes to hiring Iowaâ??s workforce.

      "It is extremely important for the local businesses and industries to really participate in these STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs because it really educates the future workforce. So the companies, if they get involved in the early stages with the kids, this is their future workforce,â?? said Rebecca Whitaker, Regional Manager for the southeastern Iowa STEM Region.

      Students have been building their robots since the beginning of the school year, and putting many hours into preparing for the competition.

      â??We practice four hours a week. Two hours on Tuesday and Thursday,â?? said Elizabeth Helfenberger, a student at Ottumwa High School.

      The students would be no where without their teacher, Ryan Johnston. Johnston is the physics and robotics teacher at Ottumwa High School.

      â??We started in September, at the beginning of September, and we have been going all the way until now; it has been quite the process. We've had a couple of other designs where we had to brake it back down and start it over from scratch,â?? said Johnston

      Students from the round that was held in Ottumwa will move on to Iowa City for another tournament. Students participating in the program are eligible for scholarships through the University of Iowa.