Problem solving key
Grade 9 student Fatihah Raheem said the competition was stressful, both participating and waiting for the results to be announced.
“We moved to the back of the gym because we didn’t win any (team or individual) awards,” she said.
That was until the speaker announced St. Francis as the overall winner. The group of eight students and two coaches exploded with enthusiasm. “It was deadly,” said student Allison Hiscock. When asked to describe the feeling, Brayden Hearn said there “really isn’t a way to describe the feeling. There were a few chairs knocked over. We went there to win it all and we did.”
Every year, a new project topic is presented to students. This year’s topic was called “Food Factor,” which required teams to study a food that had seven ingredients or less. The St. Francis team selected cheese, which has four ingredients, explained Michael Dooley.
With their topic chosen, the students went about studying the journey of cheese and the challenges of making the product. From this, they developed a skit, an innovative solution as well as a Lego robot designed to undertake a series of tasks.
“Their innovative solution was to prevent cheese from becoming stale or mouldy,” said Dobbin.
To do this, a second machine was built. It uses nano vaccums to remove the mould from cheese.
“The hope is for someone to see the idea, and run with it,” said Dobbin.
The idea for a nano vaccum is a unique one for students to suggest at the Grade 9 level.
“Aicha had a book that had nano vaccums that sucked up plague in a blood cell, so we thought, why not cheese,” said Fatihah.
When the students made their presentation, the judges were blown away.
“They told them it was the best they’ve seen in 10 years,” said Dobbin.
The same song and dance
“We’re very excited and a little overwhelmed,” added Littlejohn.
The competition in St. Louis will feature 85 teams from around the globe, including teams from other Canadian cites in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
The team will need to fundraise at least $20,000 in order to travel to the Show-me State.
“We have accepted the invitation, we just haven’t told the parents yet,” said Littlejohn with a smirk.
Dobbin thinks the accomplishment is even more impressive given the fact the program was relatively dormant last year.
“I think it’s wonderful for the children and it’s wonderful for the school,” he said.
The school has experienced a level of success at the international level. In 2009, at the First Lego League event in Atlanta, Georgia, St. Francis was 14th overall out of 104 teams from around the world.