It was a scene to quicken the hearts of any athlete. Tuesday, the Ravens huddled over the playing field, eyes darting and hand signals telegraphing the game plan. Then they sent out their pre-programmed player on a mission. This wasn’t Superbowl practice, it was the Robotic Ravens demonstrating First Lego League Competition at Cross Creek Country Club for Mount Airy Rotarians.
Pilot Mountain Middle School League Coach Janna Blakeney said participants demonstrate the three elements of the problem-solving sport emphasizing Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. Three teams were involved with the demonstration. They were the Pilot Mountain Pegasi, Pilot Mountain Programmers and the Robotic Ravens. She said a total of 27 students were present at the Rotary meeting as well as mentors from businesses supporting the league including Insteel and SouthData and Surry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves.
“Thank you for inviting us here to present the good things happening in Surry County Schools and the Mount Airy City Schools who also participate in First Lego League,” said Surry County Schools Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Jill Reinhardt. “The difficult part is we do not have a stage here, but we’re going to do the best we can.”
Team members used a PowerPoint presentation to recognize corporate sponsors and mentors. Reinhardt said the students themselves decided to take charge and thank every mentor and sponsor. Student-led presentations explained the components of the competition which include demonstrating core values such as teamwork as well as innovative solutions and robotic design. The league’s problem this year was to have teams find a solution to a problem senior citizens might have.
Before students taking turns telling the Rotarians what the program meant to them, a skit performed before the group explained the “Car-O-Matic,” a vehicle which drives where it is told to go. The robotic missions on an obstacle course table included knocking over bowling pins and picking up and placing a chair in a designated area.
“This is a great example of a community coming together for an educational project,” said Reeves after the demonstration. “These young men and women are the future leaders of this county and beyond. They accepted challenges and provided solutions. This is a demonstration of application. Thank you for your support of Surry County Schools.”
The Pegasi were named the overall champion in the tournament this season. The Programmers took home the Core Values Trophy. The trophy for Research was won by Central Middle School’s M.A.R.S. team and the Robot Design award went to the Ravens. The Programmers took home the High Score Award and Gentry Middle School’s “Imagineers” team won the Judge’s Award.
The FLL competition was made up of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from the county’s middle schools. Meadowview fielded two teams, while Pilot Mountain Middle School brought three teams to the event. Central Middle School fielded four teams, while Gentry Middle School took three teams to the event. Mount Airy Middle School fielded two teams.
The Surry FIRST Lego League is an inaugural partnership between the school system and five local companies to form the area’s first Lego robotic program.
Corporate sponsors for the league are SouthData Inc.; Renfro Corporation; NCFI Polyurethanes; Insteel Industries Inc.: Northern Hospital of Surry County; and Advanced Electronic Services Inc. The effort also is supported by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership.
FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The organization was founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen as a way to inspire young people’s interest in science and technology.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.