Airdrie robotics team earns silver at provincials
A group of eight Airdrie boys used their knowledge of robotics and seniors to come in second overall at the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Provincial Championship on Jan. 19 in Edmonton.
“We won second out of all of Alberta,” said team member Jon Allen, 10. “And we’re feeling pretty good about it.”
The team, known as Shock Squad, missed the first place for robotic performance by a mere seven points.
“We don’t have an official name for him but he’s one of the strongest robot builds we ever did,” he said of the team’s robot.
FIRST which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a program aimed at motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science and technology.
Part of the challenge at the championship, which was called Senior Solutions, involved the team finding a senior to partner with in order to identify a problem faced by older people. The team then had to come up with a way to solve the issue raised by the senior.
Allen said Shock Squad decided to develop a survey for seniors to identify several problems an elderly person might face. He said the team had 18 respondents and the survey indicated using a computer to connect with friends and family was the biggest concern for seniors.
The boys then developed a Student to Seniors Technical Tutoring program to teach seniors how to use email, iPhoto sharing and Skype.
“They were nice,” said Allen of working with the seniors. “They were easy but also hard to work with because they were kind of scared of the computers.”
For the second part of the challenge the team had to design, build and program a robot that was capable of completing a mix of challenges.
The type of activities the robot needed to complete highlighted being independent, engaged or connected, which FLL names as areas of concern for seniors.
Challenges included having the robot move a LEGO chair and place it at the table and a “quilting” challenge where the robot had to add square LEGO pieces to a “LEGO quilt.”
“It was challenging because we all made up a prototype,” Allen said of designing the robot. “We kind of ended up with a mix of them all.”
He said the championship was nerve wracking because of the blasting music and the cheering crowd but that he wants to do it next year.
“It was a pretty awesome day,” he said.