Legomaniacs off to worldwide competition
Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 06:00 am
Some kids think creatively with toys, others mechanically. And then there’s the third category who try to turn them into medical and scientific devices.
For eight Airdrie boys dubbed the Robo Swarm Squad, their listeria- and moisture-detecting robot, fits the last category. The octet, which includes seven home-schooled boys, competed in the FIRST Lego League championship at NAIT, Jan. 21, and won first prize.
The point of this year’s competition was to find ways of preventing food contamination. The boys’ robot, Swarm Bot, did just that. In three runs, the boys beat 47 other teams from across Alberta.
“Our team was set up very well,” said Kyle Storrier, 13. “We had (our plan) memorized pretty well.”
Storrier was on the first-place team last year at the competition and said having experience made a difference.
“Definitely knowing what was going to happen at the tournament is a big help,” he said.
Parts of the research was modelled after scientific data from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. Prior to competition, the boys spent about 40 hours preparing, practicing routines, making information packets for judges and learning teamwork.
“We do co-operate pretty well,” said Storrier. “The old teammates would help the younger people.”
Storrier’s mother Nadine said the team worked tirelessly ahead of the Edmonton competition.
“It’s a very broad all encompassing program,” she said. “They have to not only build a robot, but program it to do specific missions on the playing field table.”
The team will travel to St. Louis, Miss., April 25-28 for the World Championships.