SOAR students learn how to use brain tool

Photo by Xena Cortez Dollar Bay High School Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics students Cami Daavettila and Arizona Gilles make onsite repairs to their remotely- operated vehicle at Isle Royale National Park in early May. The ROV looks for zebra mussels and other underwater hazards at the park.

DOLLAR BAY — For Meg Keranen getting involved with the Dollar Bay High School Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics (SOAR) program was something she wanted to do before she even got to high school

Keranen, who was SOAR assistant director for the 10th-grade class, said she heard about the program and thought it sounded interesting.

“I decided to join SOAR as soon as I got into high school and it was offered to me,” she said, “I had talked to some older students who have been in it, and they all told me about how much you learn and how much fun it is. So I just thought I’d give it a try.”

SOAR is run by students at DBHS. The students build submersible remotely-operated vehicles, which are used by the rangers at Isle Royale National Park to look for zebra mussels and other underwater hazards at the park. The instructor for the program is Matt Zimmer, DBHS math and science teacher.

Keranen said besides enjoying herself in the SOAR program, she’s actually learning things she may not have learned otherwise.

“I have learned tons about wires and wiring, writing code, using many different types of machines and tools and just using my brain to think up different ideas and try them out,” she said.

Her experience in the program has made her think about continuing that type of education at the post secondary level.

“I think that I would really consider taking some technical courses while in college,” she said. “I love taking any sort of hands-on classes, so I feel like I’d enjoy technical classes.”

Keranen said she hasn’t given serious thought about where she like to go after high school, but she’s leaning towards Michigan Technological University or Northern Michigan University.

Tanner Banfield, SOAR technician for the 10th-grade class, said he took the class because he also heard from students who took it how much fun it was, and he has an interest in robotics.

He enjoyed the class so much, he thinks he’ll also continue that education after high school, Banfield said.

“I think that I will take some technical classes in college, because I really enjoy doing what we do in class,” he said. “If I go to college I plan on going to Michigan Tech.”

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