"Inspiring" teams win at Maryland State qualifying match in youth robotics this weekend
December 19, 2012
- ARL mentors teams to win robotics state qualifying competition
- Title 1, vision-impaired schools win top honors
- Both advance to state competition in January at University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Two teams mentored by the Army Research Laboratory scored big at the first of 12 Maryland State qualifying competitions of the FIRST LEGO League December 1 in Belcamp, Md.
Seven of the more than 260 teams competed at the all-day event held at SURVICE Engineering's Brass Mill facility. The competition was sponsored by SURVICE Engineering, ARL and TechBrick Robotics.
Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School's "WizBots" were named champions at the "Senior Solutions" competition that required teams to interview a high school senior and develop a robotic program or solution to assist with the student's need. Teams were required to create a full project and presentation and develop creative exercises to demonstrate the teamwork skills.
The Maryland School of the Blind was named runner up and given the core values teamwork award, recognizing the team's problem solving strategies, leadership style, communication style and their organizational style.
"This year's competition was really inspiring because of the teams present. It showed a lot of the success of ARL's outreach," reflected Dr. Christopher Hoppel, chief of ARL's Soldier Protection Sciences Branch who co-founded TechBrick, a Lego club formed for homeschooled students from throughout the greater Baltimore area.
Hall's Cross Roads is one five Title 1 schools in Harford County that receives federal funding to help close achievement gaps between low-income and other students.
Hoppel said this year's competition marked the first the Maryland School of the Blind competed against traditional school programs; typically, youth there compete against other vision-impaired schools.
"By the end of the day, I was just overwhelmed with some of the kids I met," he said.
FIRST LEGO League is one of the four programs offered by US FIRST. These programs span ages 5-18 and involve more than 300,000 children in 51 countries. The state organization, Maryland FIRST, has more than 550 teams in four programs and more than 250 FIRST LEGO League teams. Teams compete at local qualifiers for one of 72 slots available at the state competition, which will be held in January 2013 at the University of Maryland Baltimore College.
Other awards were presented to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County – Edgewood 1 for Robot Design Programming; St. Joan of Arc School Golden Knights for Project Presentation; Boys & Girls Club of Harford County – Aberdeen 1 for Robot Design and Robot Performance; Saint Margaret School Team #1 for Core Values Inspiration and Saint Margaret School Team #2 for Project Research.