Bots of Another Color: A high school robotics team for kids with Autism

Bots of Another Color: A high school robotics team for kids with Autism
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 6:46 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2022 at 11:29 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - For the past few years, J.D. Hoverman has been a mentor for high school robotics teams throughout the Northland.

He’s also one of the millions of Americans who are on the Autism spectrum, something he knows now but didn’t as a child.

“As a person that grew up with Asperger’s when I wasn’t diagnosed and nobody knew what the issue was with me, I struggled,” said Hoverman.

Recently in his robotics mentoring work, he noticed something about the way some students were being treated.

“I notice that the students that are possibly on the spectrum sometimes get pushed to the side, even if they had good ideas because they didn’t present them in the normal social manner,” said Hoverman.

So now, he’s helping start a robotics team that is created specifically for young people on the Autism spectrum.

But first, he needed some help to get the ball rolling.

Rod Raymond, a local businessman is helping Hoverman.

To start with, he’s turning a garage he’s using to store grain from his microbrew into a state-of-the-art robotics workspace.

Raymond also has a connection to the cause.

“I just believe in JD and I believe in the engineering side of it, and my son has Asperger’s and so I’ve got a personal interest in all that,” said Raymond.

And for Hoverman, the students who take part are learning about much more than just robots.

“We’re going to use robots to help them learn life skills,” said Hoverman.

The team will be called Bots of Another Color.

Participants need to be high school aged, but the team is not affiliated with a specific high school.

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