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QWERTY Robotics hoping for grants thanks to online votes

The Detroit Lakes QWERTY Robotics Team is busy raising funds for its growing program and is asking for the public's help in obtaining at least part of a nation-wide grant.

$5,000 is up for grabs for the high school robotics team that receives the most on-line votes for their video.

The voting began a couple of weeks ago and goes through March 18.

Students on the QWERTY team made the process easy as they placed a yellow star on their webpage ( "They made it so that people can just click on the yellow star and it brings them to the voting page, where our video can be voted on," said Debbie Janzen, who heads up the team.

The grant is one of several offered up by the Follett Educational Challenge, "an opportunity for educators across the U.S. and Canada to help promote their programs that teach the 21st century skills students need to be prepared for life after highs school."

Janzen says the team has been doing fundraisers at different points throughout the year in order to compete at a new regional competition in at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, Alberta the first week of April.

"Robotics is just growing like wildfire, and so they're having to open up new regions around the United States and Canada," explained Janzen. "And so for this new regional they were looking for established teams with some experience to be able to go there and help mentor the other, newer teams ... so that's what wanted to do."

Janzen says although the team is only in its fourth year, it has acquired a ton of experience and knowledge about the program that combines a sports competition with a tremendous testing of the brain.

"And since the motto is 'gracious professionalism, we wanted to go up and share some of what we've learned," said Janzen, "We've been so lucky to have businesses and people believe in us and help us, and so now we want to pay it forward."

Janzen says this year the team continues to rely on donations, fundraisers and grants like the one they are striving to win via the video voting battle.

"We're up against a lot of big communities, but you know if everyone in our small community just voted once a day, I think we'd get it -- it'd be awesome," said Janzen.