11 Dec 2005 ericzayers   » (Journeyer)

Yesterday the First Lego League team I've been mentoring from Belmont Hills Elementary in Cobb County, Georgia had their regional qualifier at Wheeler High School. The Wheeler robotics club did a great job of putting on a competition with 27 teams. They had 3 of their FIRST robots out from previous years and they were awesome.

This was my team's first year, and they are at the young end of the age range, so I didn't expect them to do incredibly well. What they lacked in experience they made up for in teamwork and dilligence on the presentations, and they ended up being selected as one of the top 17 teams to advance to the state competition at Georgia Tech.

Their robot design was quite simple - just a wheel hub on the front of the robot to help it steer straight and two direct drive wheels in the back (no gearing). Then they added different arms to do each competition. Their advantage was speed and the fact that it went where they pointed it.

For their presentation, they explored the topic of dynamite fishing. The kids did some research and wrote letters to countries where this has been identified as a problem. Then they baked cookies, attached messages to the bags and mailed them off to places in the Phillipines. They got quite a few responses to their letters and put on a play for the judges to present their work.

If you ever get a chance to mentor one of these robotics teams, I highly recommend it! It wasn't too much of a commitment for me since they already had a teacher acting as the coach. I visited the class 3 times, wrote to them via email, and helped them out financially a bit too.

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