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Middle schoolers solve animal issues using robots

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The team from Eagles Landing Middle School, named the “Eagle Allies,” took home the Champion’s Award. Their real-world solution was cleaning up Lake Okeechobee of blue-green algae using a robotic machine. It would scoop out the algae and put it into a filter system.

Over 300 middle school students, parents, coaches and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) supporters were on hand last weekend at Palm Beach State College’s Palm Beach Gardens campus for the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Extravaganza and Spectacular.

Palm Beach State hosted the event Feb. 4, which welcomed 24 Palm Beach County middle schools to the competition made possible through a partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County, Prime Time Palm Beach County, Green Mouse Academy and the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.

With an eco-friendly theme of “Animal Allies,” teams of up to 10 students identified real-world animal problems using robots such as protecting bees; creating safe crossings for raccoons; preventing wolf extinction; pet iguanas being released into the wild; safeguarding sea turtle nests along our coastlines; and protecting endangered Florida panthers.

“All of the participants were winners, as they were able to create solutions to problems facing our planet, using teamwork and diversity,” said Dr. Becky Mercer, PBSC director of biotechnology and STEM education.

During the event, parents and guardians learned about PBSC’s STEM programs, including Summer Youth College, as well as Engineering Technology, Electric Power Technology and Biotechnology degrees and certificates. Representatives from each program hosted information tables in the Bioscience Technology Complex lobby.

Working with their coaches, team members, many of whom hope to one day enroll at PBSC, competed under the FIRST LEGO League signature set of core values: celebrating discovery, teamwork and gracious professionalism.

Palmer the Panther made an appearance during the opening and closing ceremonies, participating in a high-five line for all participants. For the first time, eight teams received bids for the Regional Tournament to be held Saturday, Feb. 25 at Boynton Beach High School.

Competition results:

Extravaganza
Champion’s Award: Eagles Landing – Eagle Allies
Robot Performance Award: Eagles Landing – Eagle Allies
Robot Design Award: Don Estridge – RoboDragons
Spirit Award: HL Watkins – Seminoles
Rising Star Award: John F. Kennedy – Mighty Vikings
Research Project Award: Jupiter – Jupiter Mariners
Judges Award: Western Pines – Cybernetic Tigers
Core Values Award: Lake Shore – Robo Runners
Coach/Mentor Award: Matthew Leavy – Jupiter Middle

Spectacular
Champion’s Award: Pahokee – Subaroos
Robot Performance Award: Bak – Bakinators
Robot Design Award: Carver – Carver Robotics
Spirit Award: Lantana – Robo Viking Squad
Rising Star Award: Crestwood – Crestwood Eaglebots
Research Project Award: Christa McAuliffe – CMMS Innovating Swarm
Judges Award: Lake Worth – RoboWarriors
Core Values Award: Palm Springs – Robo-Rays
Coach/Mentor Award: Christopher Simmons and Michelle Roper – Christa McAuliffe Middle

IMG_1172-smallerThe event was made possible in part through the College’s National Science Foundation InnovATE grant, aimed at increasing levels of underrepresented populations in engineering, manufacturing and aerospace STEM fields.

This was the second year in a row that Palm Beach State hosted the competition. The format was changed this year to become a sanctioned tournament with FIRST LEGO League.

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One comment on “Middle schoolers solve animal issues using robots”

  1. It is incredible to see South Florida students not only get involved with STEM, but also care about the welfare of animals!

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