The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Robotics program hosted the 2017 LEGO Robotics Championship, junior division, April 8 at the college’s La Plata Campus. This year’s challenge theme was “Trash Trek.” Teams were asked to use LEGO Mindstorm/EV3 robotics systems to build robots that could complete a laundry list of trash-related tasks, like bumping into a LEGO composter and turning it on and using the robot to initiate a recycling process. The teams earned points for each task successfully completed by their robot, with up to approximately 1,000 points possible.
“I think it gets the kids to learn how to handle challenges and learn a step-by-step process,” said Ann Stine, coach for the GLS Lions Gold team from Grace Lutheran School. “Also, they learn how to work together.” Parent helper Anita Scott of Hollywood was among the crowd of anxious onlookers as her daughter Gabbi, 9, and her team, the Trashtalkers of The King’s Christian Academy, competed in one of the early heats. “I think it’s been great,” Scott said. “It’s taught her team-building. And as a mother of a daughter, I like that she’s getting involved in a STEM program.”
Patti Edwards, a teacher from Our Lady Star of the Sea, worked with the team from her school, the Robohawks, as they prepared for their next match. Edwards noted that events like the LEGO championship at CSM allow the students with technical and engineering skills to apply their strengths and shine outside of the classroom.
“These are our problem-solvers for the future,” Edwards said. In the elementary team competition, top overall awards went to the Beach Brainiacs from Beach Elementary School for Project, and Brick Girls from Barstow Elementary School won for Robot Performance.
In the middle school team competition, the Tiny Boxes from Plum Point Middle School won the Champion’s Award. The top overall awards of Project went to Husky Robotics from Matthew Henson Middle School, Core Values went to the Trashformers of Piccowaxen Middle School, Tiny Boxes won Robot Design, Loading… from Plum Point Middle School won Robot Performance and Reckless Robots from the Purple Boot Mentoring Program won Robot Champion. MD Volt Inc., a Maryland-based nonprofit that promotes electric transport, is a regular guest at the annual LEGO championship. The group set up cars in the CSM parking lot during the competition. Spectators and students had the chance to stop by and check out the latest electric vehicles and learn about electric vehicle technology.
CSM hosts the LEGO competition with funding provided by STEM sponsors through the CSM Foundation. For information about the championship and a list of all the awards and team scores, visit http://stem.csmd.edu/robotics.html and http://stem.csmd.edu/events_csmroboticsJunior.html.