TROY — The WACO Golden Dragons slayed the local competition in the area of project design and research at a recent First LEGO League competition.
The WACO Golden Dragons were one of 12 teams who battled it out at the U.S. Air Force Museum on Dec. 7. The team won “Best Innovation Project” overall at the competition, but was not selected to move forward to the next level of competition.
The theme of the 2019 competition was “City Shaper.” Teams were challenged to design and build “better places to live and work for everyone” with inspiration from their own community.
The WACO Golden Dragons didn’t have to travel far for inspiration for their project. With the Troy City Schools gearing up for a bond issue to build new elementary schools and vacating several older buildings, the team chose an innovative solution to re-purpose Heywood Elementary School.
On the team’s poster board, the team used a play on words as the facility’s slogan — Hey — would you like to feel better?
The team researched how to turn the elementary school into a mental health and wellness facility for youth. Team members researched the cost to renovate the building, including features such as a “smash room” where a patient can break things safely, sensory-friendly areas, group and individual therapy rooms as well as common areas.
Judges gave the team high marks for their research, innovative solutions and their overall presentation.
P.J. Glover, 15, a freshmen at Troy High School, said he helped shape the idea due to there not being a lot of options for mental health help for his age group.
“There’s not many places for young people to go,” saif Glover said, who said their facility would allow urgent care visits and even an overnight stay if needed.
The team used interviews with Troy City Schools counselors as well as professional psychologists in the area.
Ricky Bertke, 12, a sixth grader from Anna Local Schools, said he enjoyed programming the LEGO robot. Bertke joined the team after attending a summer camp at WACO Air Museum’s Learning Center.
Bertke consulted with construction officials to find out it would cost approximately $2.6 million to renovate the building and another $500,000 to run the facility.
“We worked really hard on this project,” Bertke said.
Judah Pierce, 11, a fifth-grade student from Forest Elementary, shared that it was his first year in LEGO League, which he wanted to join after a summer camp at the learning center.
“I really liked LEGO League because of the building and programming and team work,” Pierce said.
Cayden Reigelsperger, 12, a seventh-grade student at Troy Junior High School, returned to the team this year.
“I liked how we turned old buildings like Heywood into something positive for people our age,” Reigelsperger said.
Kyle Packard, a seventh-grade student at Troy Junior High, said he enjoyed meeting new people, including three new teammates.
“It was a pretty good season,” he said.
The team was coached and mentored by parents Carrie Glover and Keith Packard and Amanda Grear, a Troy Junior High and Upper Valley Career Center pre-engineering teacher.
The WACO Air Museum and Learning Center sponsored two teams who participated in local competitions this season. Teams are judged on project design, solution and research, LEGO robotics design and game scores as well as team work such as cooperation among themselves and fellow competitors.
For more information about WACO Air Museum’s Learning Center and its youth programs and summer camps, visit www.wacoairmuseum.org
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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