Competition tests creative and team skills
Jarvis Middle School’s three FIRST LEGO League teams soared at this year’s CVA Qualifier Tournament held Jan. 31. Teams P.O.D. (Protect Our Dolphins) and V3LCRO will move on to regional competition and team JMS Blockheadz earned the contest’s Core Values award.
FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. Each team faces three challenges:
- Project: Complete an Animal Allies Project that improves human-animal interactions. Each team has five minutes to describe a problem and present their solution.
- Robot Game: Build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions.
- Core Values: Operate under the FIRST LEGO League signature set of core values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism®.
This year’s competition featured 11 area teams and their coaches, and volunteer judges and support staff. Judges graded each team’s performance in the project, robot competition and core values. Support volunteers guided teams and visitors through the building, and served food in the cafeteria.
Meet our teams
Team coaches: Laurie Scharett, Holly White
Team members: fifth graders Connor Mack, Keegan Moss, Zachary Preston, Chris Waite, Austin Weber, Derek Weiderman, Brayden Youngs and and seventh grader Alexis White
Research Project: The Herkimer Humane Society has a problem. When the weather is bad, it is difficult for volunteers to take the more than 30 dogs outside to walk. The Blockheadz researched solutions and discovered that dogs can be trained to run on specially built treadmills – and decided to build one. They found plans online and used hardware store websites to price the materials. Biotechnology company Renmatix Corp in Rome, NY underwrote the costs. The team met with parents and other volunteers a couple of Saturdays and soon built a Doggie Runner treadmill that they donated to the Herkimer Humane Society!!
Awards: JMS Blockheadz received the Core Values team trophy for working as a team to not only build the treadmill, but also to create a team code that helped channel their enthusiasm and take turns while working together. The judges praised their solution to the problem in the judging room.
Said coach Laurie Scharett, “But most of all, they loved how we never got discouraged even though during the Robot Games part of the competition. Our robot never did what it was supposed to do, so we never scored any robot points. But we had fun anyway, and that was the most important part!”
Team coaches: Rachael Mucurio and Bill Holland
Team members: (clockwise from front) Audreanna Greene, Madison Shepherd, Anthony Crisino, Brianna Holtz, William Slentz, and Michael Conley (missing from photo).
What’s in a name and a logo? The team mastered placing Velcro on the robotics competition board, so what better name than the V3LCRO Masters? While this was happening, Audrey was singing “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical. They chose that for their logo because it relates to Velcro and their Core Values.
Madison Shephard wrote, “Our team’s goal is to mend/create bonds between animals and humans and to bring animals into schools.”
They created a website where people could learn about the team and their project, and where they to donate to the V3LCRO Masters cause. The group also created a Facebook page to promote themselves and the website. They stayed after school until 3:30 almost every day to work on programs, robot design, core values, and the project. On Fridays, they stayed as late as 8 p.m.
The work was hard, but fun.
“We get to be silly and work on different competition factors.” Madison said.
“Also, we love spending time together and we are great friends. Our team plays different games to relieve stress. There are different nicknames we have given each other as well. These include, Lizard Boy (Will), Billiam (Audrey), and Cow (Anthony). For example, while we think of different ideas, we all laugh, and listen to music. We have learned that beautiful things can come from Core Values and a little bit of chaos.”
Awards: Scored high enough to move on to the regional competition.
P.O.D. (Protect our Dolphins)
Team coaches: Deb Rachon and Ryan Biamonte
Team members: (front) Casey Johnson, Julianne Fike, (back row) Nicholas Shedd, Jordan Corsett, Shreya Patel, Lauren Grabski, (absent from photo) Cory Bennett
Research Project: The team chose to investigate the problem of dolphins being killed or mistreated after getting caught in fishing nets. Their solution was to help dolphins avoid the nets. They developed a model to mimic dolphin echolocation, warning the dolphins of a commercial fishing net nearby.
Awards: Their innovative, large shark attachment earned the team a robot design award. They also scored well enough overall to advance to the regional competition.