Howland Local School District received a $5,000 grant from Ohio STEM learning network for students to build a robot that would help the Howland Fire Department. 

Robotics program coach, David Siegfried, said the group has thought about partnering with the fire department for over a year. When the learning network grant application opened, the district thought it was the perfect opportunity. 

Soon, students will sit down with firefighters and EMS to see what type of robot they might need. Siegfried said the brainstorming process will be up to the students to work with fire and EMS, with little help from mentors and coaches. It will teach them the decision-making process. 

"They might want a large base type robot that can actually carry a fire hose," Siegfried said, "Or, they may say 'We just need something with cameras that can go in and search a building.'" 

School officials say they're excited to see what students can do with the help of the community. 

Siegfried hopes this would become a long-term partnership, giving the students the opportunity to support their robot through its usage. 

"If it helps save one firefighter's life, or one member of the community's life, everything has been worthwhile," Siegfried said. 

The robotics program was established a little under two years ago and has grown to about 30 students. They typically go to competitions, but Siegfried says this is one way for students to learn how robotics work in the real world.

Kevin Spicher, Howland's Superintendent, said that Siegfried has really grown this program from nothing over the past few years. 

"This grant just takes it to a higher level where those kids get to do even more with the programs we have in place," Spicher said. 

The district hopes to have the robot finished by the end of the school year.