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LEGO Robotics teams compete at regional event in Girard

GIRARD — More than 225 LEGO Robotics team members took to the playing table recently at the regional Northeast Ohio For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Alliance qualifying tournament held at Girard High School.

The Northeast Ohio FIRST Robotics Alliance, a partnership among nine area high school FIRST Robotics teams and the Eastwood Mall’s Art Outreach Gallery, has students in grades 5-8 preparing for challenges for their robots.

Weeks of preparation by teams of students ages 9 to 14 from Warren, Girard, Hubbard and other northeast Ohio school districts culminated at the regional events as 24 teams demonstrated their problem-solving skills, creativity, teamwork and professionalism.

Brenda Ronnebaum, director of Ohio FIRST LEGO Leagues, said the event has students build a robot, do a research project and solve a real-world problem of the human water cycle.

“The topic of this year’s challenge is hydrodynamics, where students identify a problem in the human water cycle and solve it. They are dealing with water issues and can collaborate with each other,” Ronnebaum said.

She said top teams will advance to the next level at the district tournament in January at University of Akron. The state event is set for Feb. 4 at the Nutter Center in Dayton.

Ronnebaum said there are 554 teams in the area, with the top 30 percent moving to the next level.

The 2017 FLL Challenge requires each team to design and build an autonomous robot using LEGO Mindstorms kits and LEGO parts. To score points, a team attempts robot missions on a 4-by 8-foot competition table, where their robot interacts with LEGO mission models set up on a challenge-themed mat.

In addition to robot performance teams are evaluated in the categories of research project presentation, robot design and programming, and core values. Trophies are awarded for top performers in each category. The highest honor at each competition — the Champion’s Award — is awarded to the team that demonstrates the best all-around performance.

Suzan Hunt, 13, an eighth grader at McGuffey K-8 in Warren, said the event was both challenging and fun.

“You can walk around and see how the teams created their projects. You get to see what they did to solve the problem. You are learning something new from each team,” said Hunt of the Titonics team which took first at the event.

Sean Williams, 11, a fifth grader on Titonics team, said he learned how to program a robot to complete the mission. He is also the team’s mascot LegoMan and walks around the event to get photos taken with people.

“They voted on the mascot. The kids who got voted had to quit because of basketball so I was chosen,” Williams said.

Jillian Burnett, 13, an eighth-grader on Lego Squad team, said she likes being together with the group and meeting members from other teams.

“Programming the robot to to do what you want to do is the most challenging,” she said.

Kasey Benson, 13, an eighth-grader on the Lego Squad team, said there were two separate teams from McGuffey.

”There is so much to learn being part of this. You learn about cooperation and working together as a team,” she said.

Amanda Colbert, team adviser at McGuffey, said both teams are doing well and have shown a lot of improvement from last year. There are 29 students on the two teams.

Mary Bonamase, 13, seventh-grader on Lego Lizards team of seventh and eighth-graders at Girard Junior High, said she looks forward to meeting the other team members and seeing what their robots are like.

She said each robot had to complete many tasks to earn points.

Isabella Reyes, 13, from Girard, said she noticed each robot was built in different ways and sizes.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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