Prob­lem solv­ing key

The Compass - - ORTHTE -

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.”

The project

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.

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