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Published March 17, 2013, 07:14 PM

Northwood Robotics mentor is being recognized

(WDAY TV) -- A Northwood volunteer who's helped high school students learn engineering skills for nearly a decade is now being recognized.

By: Kayla Strayer, WDAZ, WDAY

(WDAY TV) -- A Northwood volunteer who's helped high school students learn engineering skills for nearly a decade is now being recognized.

Ben Thorsgard won the regional Woody Flowers Award for being a first robotics team mentor. He was nominated by students on the Thunder Robotics Team, who submitted an essay describing their teacher.

Mike Voglewede/Northwood Robotics Mentor: "It's kind of like getting the Heisman of mentors."

Ben Thorsgard is a farmer by trade, but his passion is teaching younger generations.

Ben Thorsgard/Robotics Mentor: "Maybe I'm still a little bit of a kid myself. I just like to work with the kids on their level."

It's his lead by example mentality that students appreciate.

Cianna Leschied/Robotics Team Member: "He doesn't talk as much, but he'll show you. And he'll let you do it and help you as you're doing it."

Thorsgard says he enjoys watching students grow from knowing little about engineering, to being able to build fully functional robots, like this one nicknamed Willie Nelson.

Ben: "When they start as freshmen most of them don't know what they're doing very well. And by the time they're seniors, most of them seem to be a lot better at all this stuff."

All this "stuff" can be pretty complicated, but eye opening for these young minds.

Cianna: "It turns what some people call work, into fun and a new learning experience."

Mike: "Making the robot is a vehicle for which students learn all sorts of math and engineering skills, although they don't realize that they're learning. They're having fun building the robots and competing against other teams."

Ben: "I kind of wish something like this would have been offered when I was in high school."

Next month, Thorsgard has a chance to win the national Woody Flowers Award at the first robotics championship in St. Louis.

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