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Middle school robotics team wins regional title

St. Clare Walker Middle School LEGO Robotics Team members include, kneeling from left, Braydon Chandler, Kendall Lucas and Victoria Bennett; back row, Kyle Morning, Erik Graulich, Carter Beam and Ichabod Yavorsky.

The St. Clare Walker (SCW) Middle School F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League Robotics team won first place in The Project category at the Central Virginia Region meet this past weekend at Mills Godwin High School in Richmond. The competition consists of several different components, including a LEGO robot challenge course, a problem-solving aspect, and LEGO core values of gracious professionalism. Students had to build, design and program a LEGO robot to complete missions on a predesigned challenge course.

SCW did well in the competition and placed fifth overall.

This year’s Project Challenge, “Animal Allies,” asked students to identify interactions between people and animals to find ways to improve it or solve a problem that exists. An important component of the challenge also involved sharing their findings with the community. The SCW team identified the animal-human interaction of cars and roadkill as their problem to solve. Students noted that there are many accidents involving deer, especially this time of year, and that both animals and humans suffer injury and loss from these accidents. Through teamwork and brainstorming, the students designed a modified deer crossing sign that is improved by the addition of a motion sensor that triggers the sign to light up warning the motorists, and also sounds a high-frequency whistle to scare the deer away from the road. The current road signs are static and do not warn drivers when deer will actually be crossing, and do nothing to warn animals either, and so are minimally effective. 

Students invited local VDOT officials Joyce McGowan, Larry Horne and Assistant Division Administrator Mark Cole to see their project. VDOT representatives gave the students great input and were so impressed they are reporting the students’ invention to the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Virginia.  

“The SCW team members were just as excited about the prospect that their ideas could make a difference as they were about winning the competition!” said SCW technology education teacher Matt Short.

posted 11.30.2016

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