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November 24, 2010 - 5:57pm

Elba students build robots one Lego at a time

posted by Daniel Crofts in Announcements, elba, legos, lego league.

Here's a news release submitted by Elba resident Chantal Zambito, co-coach of Elba's FIRST Lego team; please see the Aug. 5 article:

On Saturday, Nov. 20 the NXT Lancers Team from Elba competed in the Finger Lakes Regional Foundation for the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Qualifier Tournament.

It took place at Churchville-Chili High School.

Five students made up the Lancers' team: Christian Gerould, Garrett Sinemus, Evan Hare, Colin Hunt and Johnny Zambito.

They used LEGO kits to build robots programmed to perform specific tasks.

Over the course of eight weeks, they designed, researched, built, programmed, tested and refined a fully autonomous robot capable of completing various missions.

This year’s theme, "Body Forward Challenge," explored the cutting-edge world of biomedical engineering.

Participants learned about innovative ways this science is used to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body’s potential -- with the goal of helping people lead healthier, happier lives.

The NXT Lancers designed a hockey helmet with a visual warning, airbag, and damping system to help a player avoid a concussion if they were body checked during a game.

The boys performed a newscast skit using themselves as "emergency medical technicians" and expert "doctors" to present their invention to a panel of judges. They were limited to five minutes.

The team was then asked questions about their project for another five minutes. The judges commented, “Great presentation and teamwork. We really like how you researched concussions and included an explanation of them in your skit.”

Next, the robot design judges interviewed the team. They talked about the construction of the robot and its programming. The judges were interested in what the team came up with to solve problems and what they considered to be the best parts of the robot.

The NXT Lancers demonstrated several of the robot's programs during their interview. The technical presentation judge commented: “Sturdy robot, nice consistency with the robot arm and good documentation.”

Then it was on to the robot performance rounds. Each team performed in three rounds, each lasting two-and-a-half minutes.

The team scored a total of 205 points, winning one of the three rounds -- an exceptional accomplishment for their first qualifier event.

In all, there were 21 teams, seven of which will go on to the RIT competition.

Saturday was a nonstop day of preparing and presenting. The team members worked hard and their determination was amazing, according to co-coach Evelyn Hunt.

Next, they will be preparing for an exhibition competition at Genesee Community College on March 17 during the GLOW region Tech Wars.

The Elba team is looking for more members, especially girls. Robotics are not just for boys! (In fact, there were two all-girl teams at the Nov. 20 competition and one of them earned the highest award. Both are going on to the next round.)

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