GIRARD — The competition was stiff especially between two St. Mary’s teams competing for the championship trophy at Greenbush’s FIRST LEGO League contest on Saturday.
Eight teams spanning from Pittsburg to Adrian, Missouri competed in the regional version of a global competition with the winner advancing to an international competition in St. Louis this April. Teams of up to 10 were scored on teamwork, a research project, robot design and what seemed to be everyone’s favorite contest, robot games.
“Girls will win and boys lose,” Lily Graham, a member of St. Mary’s all-girls team called the Dumpster Divers said about beating their counterpart, Robo-Recyclers.
“It’s just fun,” said Cooper Simmons, a member of the all-boys Robo-Recyclers. He added the boys would win.
The two teams were tied with 305 points after the first of three rounds during the robot games, during which each team scored points for tasks completed by their robot autonomously.
Competitors from both teams jumped up and down ecstatically, occasionally making quick adjustments to their robot as they faced off in the second round.
Teams were given two and a half minutes to complete as many tasks as possible. Tasks included programming the robot to pick up materials representing recycling and picking up pieces for compost.
“If there is one activity that helps kids, it’s FLL,” said Lori Fleming, coach of the Robo-Recyclers.
Fleming said the event teaches competitors skills in writing, engineering, programming, public speaking and research.
Teams were given roughly 10 weeks to research a project based on this year’s theme, Trash Trek. Projects were based on improving an aspect of waste management. The projects were presented to the judges Saturday morning.
This is the second year Greenbush has hosted the tournament. Lisa Blair, director of STEM at Greenbush and a director for the FLL contest, said the contest has an educational value.
“It’s seems that so often we emphasize the robotics piece,” Blair said. “But on the flip side, you’re teaching the kids values and what it is like to work together as a team.”
Four of the eight teams were from St. Mary’s: Robo-Recyclers won the core values contest for teamwork and Pro Terra Nova won the project award for their research.
Over 250,000 children from ages 9 to 16 will compete FLL contests around the world, according to a press release from Greenbush. Blockheads — a team made up of students in Crawford County — won the champion’s award, advancing to the international contest in St. Louis.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.