Where do our children learn the benefits of cooperation, teamwork and scientific invention? Right here at the Robotics Club at St John School. This club is part of a larger organization called First Lego League. Every year in August, FLL publishes a challenge to all teams in the state for the 2017 competition. The challenge for the current year is Hydro Dynamics. The school teams learn ways to deal with water conservation and waste water disposal. The St. John Students involved come from 5th to 8th grade level. This year's team have chosen the clever name of H2-Woah!
All teams across the area must complete three parts on Regional Competition Day on November 11th. The 1st part is called FLL Robot Game which includes a table built with Lego obstacles that each teams’ self-built Robot must complete. The team’s robot works similarly to a self-propelled Roomba. Of course, the team’s robot doesn’t clean! It moves from obstacle to obstacle to complete tasks, such as pushing levers or placing objects into correct positions in a Lego-inspired water treatment plant. All teams are given the same basic computer robot kit using Lego Mindstorms technology. They may then add embellishments to improve the performance and programing of their robot. The last two parts are under the FLL Research Project umbrella. The 2nd part is called the Team Challenge. Students are given a group problem to which they must find a solution in a limited time frame. The FLL judges decide how well they accomplished this challenge together. It is part of the “Core Values” of FLL, that the team exhibits co-operation, gracious professionalism and friendly competition. The 3rd and final part is the presentation of how “H2-Woah” arrived at their resolution to the water conservation issue. The kids often perform a scripted skit to show how they came to their unified solution through research and brainstorming meetings.
Over the years, the robotics club has been ably led by St. John parent, Mike Mathiason and another parent coach, Lousie Busher. Mike got involved while his son, Tyler was a student at St. John School and stayed on because of the great scientific learning aspects of the program. The kids learn how to interact with each other in positive and supportive ways while expanding their scientific knowledge.
H2-Woah consists of eleven SJS students this year! Their presentation is set at a TV studio where the H2-Woah team is invited on to be interviewed by the environmental reporter. They describe how they skyped Emilio Vargas, spokesperson and water expert for Intellecy. Mr. Vargas explained how their product, SmartWater Meter, protects against water leakage through sensors and automatic valve shut-offs when detected. This saves the homeowner and/or business from wasting water. This information is displayed on the Team’s Tri-Fold Poster showing the initial challenge, team research and their conclusion. This talented group even wrote a song about their FLL journey!
If H2-Woah makes it through Regionals in November, the next step is in December for FLL semi-finals. Finals are held in March of 2018. No matter where the St. John students end their quest, they all will have learned valuable life lessons to better our world.