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3 Yuma teams advance to state LEGO robot contest
• Showcase - Woodard Jr. High “First Century Robotics.”
• Robot Design Award - Centennial Middle School “Senior Swaggers.”
• Robot Performance Award - Centennial Middle School “Wolf Pack.”
• Project Award - Valley Horizon Elementary School “Sensational Suns.”
• Cove Values Award - Woodard Jr. High “First Century Robotics.”
• Judge's Award - Castle Dome Middle School “Inquisitors.”
• Adult Coaches Award - Somerton Middle School, Maryann Potestades.
• Champion's Award - Somerton Middle School “Cobratrons.”
Three Yuma area teams are headed to the FIRST LEGO League State Championship Tournament. It will be held Dec. 8 at Arizona State University in Tempe.
The three teams were chosen out of 16 teams that competed against each other Saturday during the 2nd Annual Yuma Regional FIRST LEGO League Tournament held at Centennial Middle School.
The teams are the Somerton Middle School “Cobratrons,” the Woodard Jr. High “First Century Robotics,” and the Centennial Middle School “Wolf Pack.”
The competition during Saturday's tournament was fierce, said Steve Smith, a seventh-grade science teacher at Centennial Middle School.
“The competition is great. It's heated, it's tight. It has been a huge success.”
During the tournament, each team had a pre-programmed robot perform tasks on a large table.
“They program it on their computer and then they plug the robot in and it downloads the program,” Smith explained. “The robot is autonomous out there on the field. They push start and it has to go out there and do its thing and come back to home base. That is how they score their points.”
While the programming process is complicated, the students “can do it better than the adults can,” Smith joked. “Coaches kind of help and guide them into it, but the kids do the work themselves, so everything you see is all things done by the kids.”
While the proces is enjoyable, it is also educational, Smith said.
“When it is fun and educational, that is what it is all about. This is a science, technology, engineering and math exercise which is really important to the kids and their development.”
The students learn best when “they are doing things with their hands and building projects,” Smith said.
“They are learning teamwork. They are learning engineering and design, and programming. They are learning these things they don't get to learn in the classroom often that really makes science interesting and useful to them and prepares them for college.”
For more information about FIRST LEGO League, log onto http://www.azfll.com/.