Pawtucket, Cen­tral Falls stu­dents win Lego qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ments

Pawtucket Times - - BLACKSTONE VALLEY -

NORTH PROV­I­DENCE – The Space War­riors, a team of fourth to sixth grade stu­dents from the Ella Risk School in Cen­tral Falls won the Cham­pion’s Award at Satur­day’s FIRST LEGO League qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment at the Ed­ward Ricci School in North Prov­i­dence. This is the event’s top award.

The Galaxy Gla­di­a­tors, from Goff Ju­nior High in Pawtucket, won the Core Val­ues Award. Both teams, along with 10 oth­ers, ad­vance to the FIRST LEGO League INTO OR­BIT state cham­pi­onship on Jan. 12, hosted by Rhode Is­land Stu­dents of the Fu­ture and Roger Wil­liams Univer­sity, with sup­port from Na­tional Grid.

Each stu­dent on the team that wins the Cham­pion’s Award at the state cham­pi­onship re­ceives a $20,000 schol­ar­ship –- $5,000 a year for four years — to at­tend Roger Wil­liams Univer­sity.

Ch­eryl Deg­nan, the li­brar­ian at Ella Risk School, started the FIRST LEGO League team to ex­pand the after-school cod­ing pro­gram. The school re­ceived two LEGO Mind­storms EV3 ro­bot­ics kits through a grant from Na­tional Grid to Rhode Is­land Stu­dents of the Fu­ture, the non-profit that man­ages the FIRST LEGO League pro­gram. The team, four fourth-graders, four fifth-graders and one sixth-grader, has been meet­ing reg­u­larly since late Septem­ber. Deg­nan said none of the team had ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing with LEGO parts, but they’ve learned about the engi­neer­ing process while build­ing the ro­bot. They also prac­ticed their cod­ing skills, writ­ing code to make the ro­bot, which they’ve dubbed R2-D2, move around on a game board to com­plete tasks.

“The stu­dents taught them­selves to use the LEGO Mind­storms EV3 soft­ware tech­nol­ogy” said Deg­nan, adding that they de­vel­oped their math skills as they coded their ro­bot.

The theme for this year’s FIRST LEGO League sea­son, INTO OR­BIT, re­volves around is­sues they would face if they lived in space long term. The Space War­riors fo­cused on how they would main­tain their Span­ish lan­guage skills if they went long pe­ri­ods of time with­out us­ing the lan­guage. While do­ing re­search on the sub­ject, the team dis­cov­ered a NASA “Story Time from Space” pro­gram where astronauts are recorded reading pic­ture books. When the team re­al­ized that the 7-year old pro­gram did not fea­ture any books be­ing read in Span­ish, they emailed the co-founder of the pro­gram. Ten days later, they were thrilled to no­tice there was a new book added to the pro­gram that was read in Span­ish.

FIRST LEGO League is a global ro­bot­ics pro­gram for chil­dren aged 9 to 14. Lo­cally, it is run by Rhode Is­land Stu­dents of the Fu­ture, a vol­un­teer-driven non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. 74 teams from across the state, in­clud­ing three from Goff Ju­nior High in Pawtucket and two from Cen­tral Falls (the Ella Risk and the Learn­ing Com­mu­nity), par­tic­i­pated in the sea­son. 40, in­clud­ing the Space War­riors from the Ella Risk School and the Galaxy Gla­di­a­tors from Goff Ju­nior High, will ad­vance to the state cham­pi­onship.

Deg­nan and Chris Col­son, the teacher who coaches the Goff Ju­nior High School team, learned the fundamentals of the FIRST LEGO League by at­tend­ing a pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment pro­gram run by Rhode Is­land Stu­dents of the Fu­ture with sup­port from Na­tional Grid and Tex­tron Char­i­ta­ble Trust. The teams have met reg­u­larly for the past 10 weeks, build­ing a ro­bot, cre­at­ing a project re­lated to the an­nual theme, and learn­ing to work to­gether within the FIRST LEGO League Core Val­ues, where “gra­cious pro­fes­sion­als” com­pete hard, but treat each other, and their com­peti­tors, coaches and of­fi­cials, with re­spect and cour­tesy.

While both Deg­nan and Col­son re­port be­ing su­per proud of their teams, they also said the teams want to spend the next few weeks amp­ing up their ro­bot and im­prov­ing their pro­gram­ming so they are pre­pared for the state cham­pi­onship. They also plan to re­view the scor­ing rubric from the qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment to find other ar­eas that need im­prove­ment.

There are two more FIRST LEGO League Rhode Is­land qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment, on Satur­day, Dec. 8 at the Gor­don School in East Prov­i­dence, and on Dec. 15 at Rocky Hill School in East Green­wich. The state cham­pi­onship is on Jan. 12 at Roger Wil­liams Univer­sity in Bris­tol. All of the tour­na­ments are open to spec­ta­tors; ad­mis­sion is free. Rhode Is­land Stu­dents of the Fu­ture has man­aged the FIRST LEGO League pro­gram in Rhode Is­land since 2002. The FIRST LEGO League sea­son is sup­ported by key spon­sors, Na­tional Grid, Tex­tron Char­i­ta­ble Trust and Po­laris MEP. To date, teams ad­vanc­ing to the state cham­pi­onship in­clude Fam­ily/ Neigh­bor­hood teams from Cranston/War­ren, Lin­coln, North Sc­i­t­u­ate, Smith­field, and Wake­field; Aquid­neck Is­land Ro­bot­ics, Mid­dle­town, and school teams from the San Miguel School, Prov­i­dence; Martin Mid­dle School and River­side Mid­dle School, East Prov­i­dence; Lawn School, Jamestown; All Saints Acad­emy, Mid­dle­town; the Beck­with School, Re­hoboth, and Goff Ju­nior High, Pawtucket.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the league, visit www.risf.net or www.firstin­spires.org.

ABOVE: The Galaxy Gla­di­a­tors from Goff Ju­nior High won the Core Val­ues award at the Dec. 1 FIRST LEGO League qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment at Ed­ward Ricci Mid­dle School in North Prov­i­dence. Front, from left, Camilio DaRosa, Ad­di­son Kolb, Ky­din Brown; rear, from left, Ryan Trem­blay, Ethan Wi­jerath­nayapa and Wil­liam Dunn.

BE­LOW: The Space War­riors from the Ella Risk School cel­e­brate win­ning the top award at the league qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment. Stu­dents Jhanaira Zuleta, Jordi Pi­con, Bran­don Her­rera, An­der­son Amaya, Kim­ber­lyn Rivera, Vi­viana Cruz, Aryana Her­nan­dez, Juandiego Estrada, San­dra Roque will con­tinue to im­prove their ro­bot and project prior to the state cham­pi­onship.

RIGHT: Wil­liam Dunn and Camilio DaRosa, from the Galaxy Gla­di­a­tors at Goff Ju­nior High, write a pro­gram for their ro­bot. The team ad­vanced to the state cham­pi­onship on Jan. 12 at Roger Wil­liams Univer­sity in Bris­tol.

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