The Austintown Middle School Queen Bees FIRST LEGO League team made a trip to Dayton Feb. 4 and 5 to compete at the state championship.
The all-girls robotics team represented one of about 60 middle schools and was the first team from AMS to qualify for state. Though the team practiced all week prior to the trip, it was unable to place high in the final standings.
However, the team had a different message - enjoy the experience.
AMS Queen Bees robotics team puts some final touches on the obstacles for the FIRST LEGO League game board during the final practice session before leaving to compete in the FLL state championships over the weekend in Dayton.
"The Queen Bees did a great job, but things were not going their way on Saturday (Feb. 4)," Andy Yantes, Austintown robotics adviser said. "They finished 62 out of 62 on the robot table, but the girls had a great time, and it was a great experience."
The Queen Bees team is one of five AMS FIRST LEGO League robotics team. Guided by two or more adult coaches, FIRST LEGO League teams of up to 10 members in fourth to eighth grades must research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution.
The members must design, build and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS, and then compete on a table-top playing field.
They apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts as well as imagination to solve a problem. Along their journey, they develop critical thinking and team-building skills, basic STEM applications and presentation skills, as they must present their solutions with a dash of creativity to judges.
They also practice the program's core values, which emphasize discovery, teamwork and good sportsmanship.
Each year, the teams are given a theme they must design around. This year's theme was "animal allies," which meant focusing their robot design on something to improve animal and human relations.
"The FLL comes up with the themes," team adviser Kate Moran said.
For the competition, teams must take part in three separate components that determine their overall score. The components are core values, robot design and a project. The team has to assemble tri-folds involving each of the three areas and then give a presentation before a panel of judges.
Queen Bees member Elizabeth Jadue said her team's mission had to be completed in just 2.5 minutes.
"Our mission is to deliver officer seal and his K9 dog," she said.
The robot, named "Winnie," picked up the small officer and dog and transported it to the opposite end of the game board before carefully setting it back down and picking up a camera and returning to the start line.
There were other challenges along the way as well. The robot had to drop off a pig at the manure plant and turn the manure machine by backing into a plate that made it revolve.
An additional feature was a gate the robot could go through. It included a seeing-eye dog and a blind man connected to it with a long rod. When the robot activated the gate, the seeing-eye dog sat down and the blind man's leg went to a rest position, allowing the robot to continue through. Jadue said little features like those added to the overall design.
The Queen Bees' trip to state came after they qualified at the Jan. 8 Akron district event. The team only had a few weeks to prepare and repair some minor damage done to its original designs.
The trip to state was one the girls will long remember. It also prepared them for future competitions, higher levels of performance and perhaps being part of the Fitch High School robotics team.