Saline elementary students excel in FIRST LEGO League robotics
Saline students are having a lot of success in robotics this year, historic success, and by the looks of it this should continue well into the future as the younger students on the FIRST Lego League teams are proving their expertise on a state-wide level.
To get a closer look at their success and how Saline is building a great foundation in robotics competition, the Sun Times News followed up with Christopher Myers, a mentor for the elementary level in Saline for the FIRST Robotics program (FIRST LEGO League or FLL,)which is made up of fourth- and fifth-graders.
The Michigan Championship III for FLL was held on Dec. 16 at Saline High School, which was the first time Saline has hosted an event for FLL.
Myers said at the Michigan Championship, the Saline RoboSwarm team won the Champions Award for overall #1 in all categories and the Robot Performance Award for highest robot score. He said this advances them to the World Festival in Houston in April, where the Saline Middle School team, the CyBugs, is also going.
The RoboHornets team, another fourth- and fifth-grade team, also was invited to the state championship where they earned an award of distinction for their Robot Design.
In thinking about the students and their teams, Myers said “This program is amazing for young kids in fourth and fifth grade to learn the value of hard work, teamwork, and perseverance.”
This is catching on with more and more students. Myers said Saline has grown from one team in 2019 to now having four LEGO League Teams: RoboSwarm, RoboSting, RoboHornets, and RoboHive.
“The program was started in 2019 and we've had a lot of success, winning the last three Michigan Championships and now being invited to our second international event,” Myers says.
The championship was an invitation-only event. According to Myers, RoboSwarm and RoboHornets earned invites at their regional tournaments on Dec. 2. The championship day at states consisted of a 30 minute judging session and four robot matches throughout the day where kids sent their robot out on missions autonomously in an intense two-minute-30-second match to score as many points as possible.
In the run-up to this big day, Myers said RoboSwarm spent their FIRST LEGO League season:
1. Designing and building a LEGO robot that can perform the challenges you see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI_vz9YUw1g
2. They did research and identified a problem encountered when sharing their passions and hobbies with the world. They then designed and built a unique solution to that problem and shared it with their community.
“This team felt that having a hobby was really important to physical and mental well-being, so they built a website that is by-kids-and-for-kids where they can share their passions and learn about other kids' hobbies, too," Myers said. "They built the whole thing!"
Here’s the website: https://www.hobby-pop.com
And finally the third area, which is just as important, was learning about and living the FIRST Core Values of, which Myers said are:
- Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
- Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
- Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
- Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
- Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
- Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!
If you’re interested in helping them out in their journey to the world championship, the kids are raising money to make it to Houston: https://www.gofundme.com/f/saline-heritage-fll-world-championship