Robots on parade
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent December 3, 2012 3:36PM
Cameron Titus, 11 (left), and Chase Culver,10, both students at MacArthur Elementary in Cedar Lake, Ind., prepare their robot for the FIRST Lego League Indiana Qualifying Tournament on Nov. 18, 2012. | Jeff Addison~For Sun-Times Media
Local State qualifiers
The FIRST Lego League state tournament is Dec. 8 in Fort Wayne. These local teams have qualified.
Lincoln SmartsBots, Lincoln Elementary School, Hammond
Edison: The Third Generation, Edison Elementary, Hammond
Morton Meteors, Morton Elementary, Hammond
Electro Apprentices, Jefferson Elementary, Hammond
Robotrix, Warren Elementary, Highland
Updated: January 5, 2013 6:11AM
When mentioning robotic competition involving Lego blocks, the challenges and concerns of senior citizens don’t seem to connect. But they did just that in the recent FIRST Lego League Indiana qualifying tournament at Indiana University Northwest.
Thirty-two teams competed for spots at the state championship in Fort Wayne on Dec. 8.
“This learning experience directly aligns with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education,” said Dana Dodson, IUN Education Department professor and a coordinator for the event. “It is geared toward students in third through sixth grades.”
The annual tournament at IUN is one of the state’s largest. One adult coach leads a team of up to 10 students as they program a robot to score points on a themed playing field and develop a solution to a problem the students have identified.
Parent Liz Deltorio of Whiting was in the bleachers at the gym and cheered on her son’s team from St. John the Baptist School.
“He became very creative as he worked with his team,” she said of her son, Andy Vazquez, 9. “And during this competition, you can feel how encouraged the students have become.”
The theme was “Senior Solutions.” Teams were judged on teamwork, design and programming of the robots, and how the robots performed their tasks.
Students researched quality-of-life issues for senior citizens, and devised plans to help them solve problems in daily life.
Part of that research included interviewing family members and neighbors who deal with those issues.
Shakierra Washington of Chicago was in the audience to Support her brother, Marshawn Washington, 12, and his team from the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology.
“He said it was hard to do the project, but he came through,” she said. “And I think he learned a lot of things — how to work with new people, and that competition is not everything.”
Storyboards from the competing teams included topics such as exercise, positive eating habits and the proper way to maneuver through a home or apartment.