DOLLAR BAY - The Dollar Bay High School robotics program received one award for its efforts helping the National Park Service in 2012, and on Oct. 19, the program and the school district got another award from a state education organization.
Matt Zimmer, DBHS science teacher and aquatic remotely-operated vehicle instructor, said he was chosen to represent the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools at a Michigan Association of School Boards Education Excellence Awards program in Lansing.
Zimmer said the Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics program and the district were nominated for the MASB award by K-12 Principal Bill Rivest. There are nine categories for the MASB Education Excellence Awards, and three schools were initially chosen for each category. Dollar Bay High School won in the Community Engagement category for helping the employees at Isle Royale National Park search for zebra mussels infesting the park. The ROV was used, also, to help find a sunken yacht in Portage Lake just offshore from the campus of Michigan Technological University.
Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie
Dollar Bay High School students Abby Kangas, left, and Meagan Kangas demonstrate the operation of the Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics class aquatic robot, Torch, in October 2012. On Oct. 19, the program received a Michigan Association of School Boards Education Excellence Award.
Zimmer said the award includes $2,500, which will be used for the ROV program and science curriculum enhancement.
In October 2012, the SOAR program received the National Park Service Hertzog Award for Outstanding Youth Group for the Midwest Region for their efforts with their ROV at Isle Royale.
Rivest said he appreciates the fact the MASB members considered such a small district as Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools.
"We're pretty proud of the fact we were chosen to be in the top three," he said.
Rivest said the DB-TC has advanced significantly in the past five years, particularly in technology education.
"This is a prime example of how we have raised the bar at Dollar Bay," he said. "It's a testament to the staff and students."
Norman D. McKindles III, MASB regional representative, said its Education Excellence Award is intended to recognize innovative programs, which involve students, and the community of particular school buildings, school district or Intermediate School District.
"The Dollar Bay School District, its Robotics Student Organization and Mr. Matt Zimmer are to be commended for outstanding achievement and for truly representing the quality education programs that exist in their district as well as the entire U.P.," McKindles said.
The award program has two phases, McKindles said. In the first phase the top three schools in each category are chosen. In the second phase, the winners in each category are chosen.
Zimmer said at the MASB gathering on Oct. 19, many of the MASB members and representatives of other school districts were impressed with what a small school was able to accomplish with the SOAR program.
"It was really refreshing for them to see something this technical going on at a small school," he said.
Zimmer said the students in the SOAR program may not going into the robotics field for a career, but taking part in the program may get them thinking differently about learning.
"It opens their eyes," he said. "It's more than just people running wires."
Zimmer said he's impressed with the level of attention the students give to the SOAR program, because they aren't doing it to win competitions.
"They're doing it to impact the world around them," he said.