LEGO Robotics Challenge

Groups of middle school students from Northwest Georgia competed in a FIRST Lego League Robotics Tournament conducted Saturday at Darlington Middle School. The competition is part of FIRST, a not-for-profit organization founded to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.

“It’s more than just the robotics. It’s the whole idea of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is an overall education initiative,” said Angela Pieroni, a robotics coach for the Darbots.

It was all part of the FIRST LEGO League 2010 Twin Tier’s Robotics Challenge inside the Northside Blodgett gym in Corning. About a dozen teams from Corning, Horseheads and Big Flats competed to design, build and demonstrate robots with four of the teams moving on to compete next month in Rochester and perhaps at the World Festival next year in Atlanta.

The teams comprised up to ten children between 9 to 14 years of age. They represented local schools and other organizations. Some 48 teams competed Saturday, with the top 12 teams going to Denver for a championship tournament next month.

The mission of this year’s tournament was to engineer a robot that can help doctors, hospitals, and patients in the medical field.

Courtney Goeltzenleuchter, tournament director with the 11th annual First LEGO League Poudre Robotics Qualifier, said the robots were created to splint broken bones, then test them, break down blood samples and identify cancer cells - all in a LEGO world, of course.

Challenges from previous years have been based on sciences such as nanotechnology, climate, and transportation.

“The tournament was pretty cool. We worked on our robot very hard for about two weeks,” said Alexis Shigekawa, a member of the Triple A-K group.

These tournaments help students develop a work ethic through problem solving. Student’s interaction during regional tournaments leads to share their techniques as well. They receive prizes and display their robots.

“I feel so excited right now. I was about to cry when my group won a trophy,” said Lesley Valdez, a member of the Vital Signs group.

Students were judged on teamwork, robot design and research project.

“It was excellent. We had 16 teams. The project is a very beneficial part of the event because you can actually make a difference. It’s not all about robots. It’s about real life application,” said Darlington’s Rebekah Kinney, a project judge of the event.

Six of the 16 teams that competed in the competition qualified to go to the state tournament.

“It was so cool, and I am so excited because we get to go to state,” said Zac Cole, a member of the Lego 911 group.

The teams that competed were the Pi Bots, Technical Difficulties, Challenger 1, Challenger 2, Mindiacs, KMT Rising, Spaz Attack, Triple A-K, Bio Bots, Brick Bones, Darbots, Lego 911, Vital Signs, Technotes, Rapid Cells, and Robo Tigers.

FIRST Lego League Robotics winners:

Champions:
1 Pi Bots- Alpharetta
2 Lego 911- Whitfield County
3 Technological Difficulties- Alpharetta
Advancing to state:
1 Pi Bots- Alpharetta
2 Lego 911-Whitfield County
3 Technological Difficulties- Alpharetta
4 Technotes- Alpharetta
5 Mindiacs-Alpharetta
6 Vital Signs- Whitfield County
Robot Performance:
1 Technotes-Alpharetta
2 Challenger 1-Dalton
3 Challenger 2-Dalton
Project Award:
1 Triple A-K- Whitfield County
2 Mindiacs-Alpharetta
3 Vital Signs- Whitfield County
Robot Design:
1 Technotes- Alpharetta
2 Challenger 1-Dalton
3 Darbots-Rome
Teamwork:
1 Rapid Cells- Whitfield County
2 KMT Rising-Rome
3 Bio Bots- Whitfield County

Supporting the local event were Corning Inc., the Finger Lakes Chapter of the IEEE Photonics Society, the Corning-Painted Post school district, the GST BOCES and FIRST.

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