LEGO competition about skills, core values
Feb 03, 2013 (Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
After spending several months learning how to control a robot made out of LEGOs, Madison McCloughan, 11, of Bowling Green, anxiously awaited her team's next turn to show its skills Saturday at the Kentucky FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League State Robotics Championship.
"I get nervous and stressed, like (wondering) is it going to do all right," said Madison, a fifth-grader at T.C. Cherry Elementary School. She's one of two robot programmers on her school's team, called Shark Attack.
She was also part of the team last year, when she helped put the robot together.
"I was hoping to come back because it's fun working with other people and getting to do this kind of stuff," Madison said.
She worked with her teammate, Conner Twyman, 11, also a fifth-grader, to move the robot through a series of tasks on a game board. To do so, the pair pressed buttons on a small screen on the robot's back.
Shark Attack was one of 42 teams that competed at Saturday's event at Western Kentucky University's E.A. Diddle Arena. The Glasgow Gladiators from Glasgow Middle School were also among the competitors.
This is the 10th year Kentucky has had a statewide FLL competition and the eighth year it's been at WKU, said John Inman, science outreach coordinator at WKU. He served as tournament director for the fifth year. The theme for this year's championship was senior solutions, and there were four parts to the competition.
The first part is the robot game, in which each team's robot performed a series of tasks to gather as many points as possible in matches that last two minutes and 30 seconds, Inman said. The game board was made up of nearly 15 tasks related to the senior solutions theme, including tasks that would help seniors with exercising, gardening and flexibility. Each team competed in three matches, with its highest score counting.
Robots for the competition are built using LEGO Mindstorm kits and adding wheels and other attachments to it, Inman said. Teams must build everything with LEGO parts, but they can use any LEGO piece.
For the research presentation part of the competition, teams had to learn about aging and problems senior citizens face, Inman said. The final portions of the competition judged teams on robot design and core values, which looked at how well they demonstrated teamwork and other values of the FLL.
Conner said the core values are a big part of what he took away from the competition, especially the value of professionalism.
"I've learned how to use that outside of LEGO competitions," he said.
In addition to gaining skills in robotics, engineering and math, students also study the theme while preparing for the competition, as well as learn about teamwork, Inman said.
"They're getting way more than they think they are out of the competition," he said.
T.C. Cherry has had an FLL team for about four years, said Carrie Koedyker, a gifted and talented teacher at the school and one of the team's coaches.
The technology aspect of the competition is what gets students excited, but they also learn a lot of problem solving skills, she said.
"It integrates technology with real-world problem solving," Koedyker said.
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