Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Reflections on First Lego League


On Saturday, November 14, 2015, two teams from Pioneer Middle School participated in the Regional Qualifier First Lego League tournament held at Houghton College.  This is the second year that Pioneer has participated in First Lego League.  In 2014, we brought one team of six students to the Regional Qualifier competition in Buffalo.  This year, fifteen students participated! It was exciting to see how the program has grown in just one short year.

For those unfamiliar with First Lego League, it is a three part competition focusing on Core Values, the Project Presentation, and the Robot Missions.  The Core Values of Lego League are as follows:

·  We are a team.
·  We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
·  We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
·  We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
·  What we discover is more important than what we win.
·  We share our experiences with others.
·  We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
·  We have FUN!  

Core Values served as the guiding principles for both of our teams.  In everything we accomplished as a group, Core Values were at the heart of what we were working on.

The Project portion is more of a traditional science project with a bit of a twist.  Instead of simply researching a topic, students instead had to identify a problem and develop an innovative way to address the problem.  This year, the projects had to focus on trash and solutions for solving problems with trash.  The Pioneer Green team decided to tackle the problem of styrofoam lunch trays.  They proposed using cellulose (plant) based lunch trays instead of styrofoam because cellulose trays would eventually biodegrade.  The Pioneer White team identified that throwing out batteries is a huge environmental problem.  They developed a campaign, including a website, to notify community members of the dangers associated with throwing out batteries.
Members of the White Team work on research for their project.
As part of the project presentation, teams would have only five minutes to present their problem and solution to the judges.  Both teams developed skits in order to present their ideas in a more creative and interactive way.
The Green Team practices their project presentation.

Students from the White Team practice before the competition.
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated portion of the First Lego League is the robotics competition.  Students honed their computer programming skills in order to train a robot to complete missions.  Each mission is worth a predetermined amount of points, so the team that accumulates the most points will win this section of the competition.  This part of the competition requires a lot of trial and error; it is difficult to get the robot's programming just right in order to complete the missions.

Watching the robot competition is stressful for team members, coaches, and spectators alike!  Thank you to Mrs. Woolley for capturing the following photos of the Pioneer teams in action.
Members of the White Team cheer on their teammates during the robot competition.

Extreme precision is needed to successfully run the robots.

The judges, Mr. Rehrauer, and White Team members watch the robot complete missions.
Members of the Green Team prepare to run their robot.

A quick meeting to discuss team strategy.

Members of the Green Team watch the robot in action!
The biggest surprise of the day was that four teams from the competition at Houghton College would move on to the next level of competition in Rochester, NY.  We were pleased to learn that the Green Team would be advancing on to the next round!
Some members of the Green Team celebrate their successful day!
Although it was wonderful to learn that the Green Team would be moving on, this was not the most important takeaway from the day.  Both teams displayed excellent behavior, perseverance, manners, and professionalism throughout the course of the day.  I may be a little biased (ok, a LOT biased), but the Pioneer students were some of the most well-behaved students at the entire competition.  They represented Pioneer in a way that made the coaches and families very proud.  We have lots to celebrate!

Moving forward, members of the White Team kindly offered to assist the Green Team prepare for the Rochester competition.  In the coming weeks, it will be a true Pioneer team effort. We will make some changes to the project and the robot in order to have an even better showing at the Rochester competition.  We will be eager to share our updates from the Rochester competition in early December.

Congratulations to all of the wonderful Pioneer Lego League Students!



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