Teams of Lego maniacs sought for robotics contest
For the second year in a row, students in Yuma will have the opportunity to participate in a FIRST Lego League robotics competition in Yuma.
Jenny Kaste, a teacher at Rancho Viejo Elementary School and robotics team coach, said that the competition will be taking place on Dec. 1 and they are looking for more teams to form in the area.
So far, she said, they have 13 teams participating but they are hoping for 20 to be able to send more top-qualifying teams to the state competition at Arizona State University on Dec. 8. Kaste said 14 teams participated last year.
“I know there's a lot of people out there who are interested, and I want them to contact me so that I can help them get started in running a team,” she said.
The FIRST Lego League is a robotics program that helps make science and technology fun for students 8 to 14, and also teaches them valuable employment and life skills.
The theme of the competition this year is “Senior Solutions.”
“That is really exciting for us because there are so many seniors in our area,” she said, “and the challenge that our kids will be working on is finding ways to keep our seniors independent, engaged and connected.”
This is a great way for youth to connect with the seniors in the community, Kaste said, as they will be tasked with seeking out seniors to speak with for their project.
The competition will consist of three parts: the Senior Solutions project; designing and programming a robot to run through missions at the table; and the third part is to demonstrate core values cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills.
Kaste said team leaders don't have to be teachers, they can also be parents; specific skills are not required.
“You don't have to know anything about robotics. I mean, I'm not an engineer. The only thing that you really need to have is a desire to help kids learn and if you have that desire, you have the valuable skills that are needed,” she said.
In regards to students who can participate, they can consist of a group of friends or a 4-H, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, home-schooled group or church group.
“It can be your son or daughter and their two best friends or some kids on your block. The age range is 8-14 and the kids don't necessarily have to be gifted, we've had special ed. kids and kids with disabilities participate.”
To offset the cost of purchasing a robot kit, Kaste said that Arizona Western College has robots available. Interested teams can contact Terry Shove at 580-7112.
Kaste also encourages anyone in the community to volunteer to help with the competition.
“We'd really like to see some seniors volunteer too,” Kaste said.
Her team of students visited with staff and residents of Kissito Healthcare Palm View Rehabilitation and Care Center in Yuma to fulfill the project requirement of talking with seniors. She encouraged any community organizations that work with seniors and are willing to allow students to visit their facility to contact her.
To put together a team, contact Kaste at email@example.com. E-mail Stevin Smith, tournament director and science teacher at Centennial Middle School, at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer or donate to the project. The program is in need of people who would like to donate their time, funds or materials such as T-shirts and paper.
“We aren't allowed to go out and seek those donations out so we really need people to help us out as much as possible,” she said.
For more information about the nationwide program visit www.firstlegoleague.org or visit http://engineering.asu.edu/k12outreach/fll for more information about the program in Arizona.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.