FIRST LEGO League Competition Makes Learning Fun

1/30/2012

The FIRST LEGO League, a global program created to get children excited about science and technology, regional competition will be held at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (OCtech) Friday, January 27 from 8:30am to 4:00pm.

Teams from around the region will compete in a two parts challenge: build an autonomous robot to carry out a pre-designed mission in two minutes and 30 seconds and analyze research and invent a solution to a real world problem. The teams consist of three to 10 children ages 9 to 14 guided by at least one adult coach. Teams have eight weeks to prepare for the challenge.

This year is the Food Factor Challenge, in which the teams will investigate food and find one way to improve its safe delivery.  Teams research where food comes from and how it gets to the kitchen table without being contaminated.  Each team researches different ways food is protected and spoiled. Teams then create an innovative way to preserve food and make it safe for consumption.   

“I am proud of these hard working students taking time out of their busy schedules to participate in this event,” said Wanda Staggers, FIRST LEGO League event coordinator and Dean of Career and Technology Programs at OCtech. “The challenge not only makes learning fun, but it promotes one of our goals at OCtech of improving the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills of our youth who are the future workforce of our community.”

The day of the competition is like a high energy sporting event with referees monitoring and scoring the robot game. Faculty, staff and students from OCtech are serving as judges and referees.  Students will be judged on their teamwork skills, robot competition and their project solution and presentation.

Carver-Edisto Middle School has a team competing this year, the Edisto Engineers. Norma Rockwell, Gateway to Technology Teacher, serves as Team Coach.  Rockwell says it has been a pleasure to work with the students.  “Their excitement is contagious.  It is fun to watch them work and learn together,” says Rockwell. 

Orangeburg Preparatory School has a team, Bricksters, made up of 10 sixth and seventh graders, competing for the third consecutive year.  The Bricksters have focused their project on how chicken gets from the farm to our table and how to prevent salmonella.  Wesley Watford, a team member for the second year in a row, says he joined the team because he “likes to build stuff with legos.”  Sophomores Gil Rutland and Nicholas Kearse serve as team mentors and have participated in past competitions.  They both enjoy science and technology, and plan to pursue careers in the field.  Rutland wants to be an electrical engineer and Kearse is deciding between aerospace engineering and robotics.  Libby Ray, Biology Instructor, serves as the Team Coach and says the students have learned the importance of being part of a team. “I am so proud of them for doing everything on their own.  They have really learned how to solve problems through trial and error,” says Ray. 

The following schools and organizations will be competing in the Body Forward Challenge:
Barnwell Elementary School
Beech Hill Elementary School
Carver Edisto Middle School
Crossroads Community Church
Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina
Greendale Elementary
Harleyville-Ridgeville Elementary School
Hilton Head Christian Academy
Hilton Head Middle School
Homeschool Group
Orangeburg Preparatory Schools
Patrick Henry Academy
Pritchardville Elementary
St. George Middle School
St. Mary's School
White Knoll Middle School
Williams Memorial Elementary School

For more information on the FIRST LEGO League competition, visit www.firstlegoleague.org.

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