Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Robotics at HSC Is On a Roll!

Another First Lego League (FLL) season is underway for 4th - 9th graders. In this project, our three teams meet every Thursday, and many other days too, after school for 7 weeks at Headwaters Science Center where we work in collaboration with Beltrami County 4H’s Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) program.
 Our young engineers design, build, and program robots with sensor-stimulated artificial intelligence that independently maneuver about a standardized competition board, completing a variety of tasks, with “Nature’s Fury” as our unifying theme this year. At the tournament, the teams also present accompanying project reports, skits, and demonstrations that identify natural disasters; then they propose technological solutions to these problems. We have three regional tournament bids this year at Northome, MN on December 7, 2013. If any of our teams advance, they will compete in the FLL State Robotic Tournament on February 8, 2014 in St. Paul, MN.

This competition is an amazing example of how kids can grow in ways we expect, but also in ways and manners beyond how we might imagine they would. They learn that, in order to bring their robots to championship status, they need teamwork and time-management skills in addition to abilities in mechanical design and computer programming.

This high-profile project brings HSC a good deal of recognition in the community. Look for us at the “ROBO SHACK” this summer at the Beltrami County Fair where we will feature these and other technological achievements of our young engineers. Past participants have formed a permanent club and are continuing to meet the first Thursday of every month at HSC; that group is currently designing and building a large underwater robot that seeks out and records the presence of aquatic invasives and has the ability to capture water and sediment core samples.

Paul Bunyan Communications is and has been our major sponsor, supporting us in equipment acquisition (these robots and their peripherals are not cheap) and paying our tournament entry fees along with other associated costs. This project would not be possible without the volunteer efforts of parents and coaches. Thanks a bunch! It’s a tall task (and a rewarding one) to turn 20-25 squirrelly kids into focused winning teams. If you would like to help us out this season or in the future, or have a child in grades 4-9 who shows a real interest in technology, especially computers and robotic engineering, contact James Owens at 444-4472.

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