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Students Show Off at Innovation Expo

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The third annual Innovation Expo at the Coralville Marriot on Wednesday gave Corridor entrepreneurs the chance to show off their business ideas, while picking up some tricks to help their trades grow. 

There were 62 different businesses who got the chance to show off their skills, including one group of new entrepreneurs whose story is a little bit alternative. 
A robot sitting on a table flings a block and another runs over the ground going wherever a student directs it -- they're machine built by the students of Metro High School, Cedar Rapids' alternative school, to participate in a nationwide competition this year. 
The students are able to do all of it with a special source of funding that they've also engineered themselves. 
"It started off as just funding the robotics team and we started selling Metro Robotics chocolate bars at the NewBo Market, which then transformed into something so much more," said robotics team captain Mindy Hartman. 
The students realized, instead of paying someone else to make candy for them, they could cut out wooden models, create plastic molds, cook up chocolate, and printout wrappers all by themselves. 
"This is a real world experience," said Hartman. "How many people can put that on their resume leaving high school?" 
Their teacher, Shannon Ellis, said that goes a long way toward keeping kids in the Corridor. 
"If we get them invested in the idea that they have some control over their future, and that they can really be a part of growing something local, it only leads to greater opportunity," Ellis said. 
The Metro students are already branching out -- making chocolate bars for companies like DuPont and charities like Habitat for Humanity -- not to mention teaching other schools how to start up their own sweet enterprise. 
"This means so much more to me than just raising money for our own school now. It's raising money for our community, it's giving back to the community that has helped us," Hartman said. 
Last year, the Made by Metro students made $3,000 for school groups just by selling chocolate bars alone. This year, they're set to triple that, making nearly $9,000. 

 
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