MIAMI COUNTY — Can someone please hold my octopus while we get the Angry Walrus ready for the next round?
While the above statement may be appear slightly strange to the average reader, it was not an uncommon phrase which was overheard at a First LEGO League tournament held at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery at the Upper Valley Mall in Springfield earlier this month.
After all, the tournament’s referee is the guy in the black and white stripes with a unicorn on his head.
Several Miami County teams took part in several First LEGO League (FLL) tournaments around the Miami Valley this fall. This year’s theme was “Trash Trek.”
Milton-Union Schools had two teams participate at the Boonshoft tournament on Dec. 12. Dane Studebaker and Owen Reigelsperger, both 12, teamed up to form “Milton Metal.” Their team won the “Against All Odds” award for their research project based on recycling wood pallets.
“I think building the robot was my favorite part of this season. It’s really neat to work on ways to build it and share ideas on how to make it work,” Studebaker said. “It’s been a pretty cool experience.”
Reigelsperger also shared how he signed up for the after-school program to learn more about programming in a fun way.
“I liked trying to figure out ways to get the most points, which is hard with only two minutes,” Reigelsperger said. “It made me nervous, but it’s cool to see the robot do what you’ve programmed it to do.”
The Milton Metal team was coached by Dan Studebaker. The second Milton-Union team was the “S5” group coached by Elizabeth Landis. The “S5” team won the Innovative Core Values Project award. The S5 team programmed EV3 computer blocks to make spinning art work tables for spectators to take a piece of art work home with them.
The Waco Historical Society’s Learning Center supported four FLL teams this season. The WacoBots and the Waka Waka Wacos competed at the Booneshoft tournament on Dec. 12.
The Waka Waka Wacos won the tournament’s Research Award for their project work. The team researched ways to break down Styrofoam using acetone to make a new plastic like material.
“I like robots and I like structural engineering,” said Kaiser Werling, 11, of Troy. The Hook Elementary student said it was his first year to be on an FLL team. “I liked seeing all the costumes and different ways other teams designed their robots.”
Van Cleve Sixth Grade student Fiona Atkinson, 11, also said it was her first year to be on a team. The team also caught the eyes of the judges with their “Fozzie the Bear” T-shirts and handed out Waka Waka Waco joke books to other teams.
“I liked building and working with the robot,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. And I liked our joke books, too.”
The Waka Waka Wacos were coached by Tom Moser and Kevin and Carrie Glover.
The WacoBots team advanced to the district tournament which will be held at Sinclair Community College on Jan. 16. The team of seven students scored 606 points, only six points away from the tournament high of 612, with their robot named “Angry Walrus.”
Carter Newhouse, 13, of Tipp City, said he enjoys meeting new people at the tournaments and working as a team on the projects.
“I was impressed with everyone’s projects and robot — they did a lot of cool stuff,” Newhouse said. “My favorite part is working together and meeting people and solving problems.”
It was Logan Newhouse, 9, first year to participate on a team.
“My favorite part of it is hanging out with people and walking around and seeing teams and the things they thought of,” Newhouse said.
Miami East Junior High seventh grade student Ben Gregory, 12, said it was his first year on a team this year.
“My favorite part was the Core Values exercise because it enhanced my team work skills,” Gregory said. “I liked building the robot and making decisions during those exercises.”
Team work was also a highlight for Drake Beatty, 12, of Troy.
“Working together with my team was my favorite part because I got to meet new friends,” Beatty said. “The judging part was fun because we got to explain everything.”
Programming and designing the robot was Concord Elementary fifth grade student Arjun Kurup’s favorite part of FLL.
“Working with the robot to get it to do what you want it to do,” Kurup said. Kurup also said he enjoyed the project portion of the event and presenting the “Radical Recycling Robot” to the judges. “I liked knowing we made an invention that could help the world.”
Miami East Junior High sixth grade student Evan Massie, 11, said his favorite part was working together as a team.
“We each had a chance at the (tournament) table,” Massie said. “It was fun cheering our team on during the matches.”
Jeremy Wolbers, of Tipp City, said he liked building the LEGOs and working on the team project.
“The team made a prototype that actually works and the judges liked that,” Wolbers said. “I liked how everyone dressed up, too.”
The WacoBots are coached by Ramesh Kurup.
According to its website, First LEGO League is program for children age 9 to 14 which combines engineering, computer programming, problem-solving, researching, presenting and teamwork into an eight week period. Teams work to build and program a robot to complete a number of tasks on a competition table in a two and-a-half minute robot round. Teams compete in a sports-like environment where spectators cheer their successes. Teams also meet with Robot Design Judges, who evaluate their robot design, programming and their problem-solving strategies; Project Judges, who look at their research project, solution and outreach; and Core Values Judges, who evaluate how well the group functioned as a team and incorporated the values of the program.
For more information about First LEGO League and other affiliated programs, visit www.firstinspires.org.
Reach Melanie Yingst at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews