BATESVILLE Members of Central Magnet Elementary School’s First Lego League have learned how to build their knowledge of robotics and research through friendly competition.
The group of eight sixth-graders won second place in research at the state First Lego League competition in Mountain Home in December. The students were recently honored by the Batesville School Board for their work on the “Senior Solutions” theme this year at the competition.
“I was really proud,” said Debra Smith, gifted and talented district coordinator for the Batesville School District. “Out of all of those 30 teams [at the state competition], they received second place for their research.”
Central Magnet’s First Lego League includes Lexie Rice, Enelyn Hernandez, Jacob Wolform, Cody Tosh, Jonathan Clark, Kyler Stolark, Lauren McDaniel and Allison Fredricks.
The school’s league was formed about 11 years ago. This year’s group was divided into researchers and programmers.
“[The research] helps [the students] become more aware of their community,” Smith said.
To begin their research, students interviewed a senior in the community. After the interview, the researchers identified a problem in the senior community and developed a possible solution to the problem.
Fredricks said the researchers discovered that 76 percent of senior citizens have problems managing their medication.
The students’ solution to the problem was “Med Alert,” a watch-like device worn by seniors to remind them when to take their medicine.
A senior who uses the “Med Alert” system would have a watch that alerts him when it is time to take his medicine. The user then would scan the watch’s QR code with his pill dispenser, which would inform the Med Alert system that he has taken his medicine.
Users would also give the Med Alert system the name of someone to contact in an emergency. That person will be alerted if a user neglected to take his medicine. There would also be an emergency amount of medicine within the Med Alert watch for the user to take if necessary, Wolform said.
The team went to Woodlawn Inc., an assisted-living facility in Batesville, to do a survey with seniors to see if they would potentially use the Med Alert system.
“[The seniors] were really pleased, and they enjoyed the kids,” Smith said.
The programmers on the team came into play when they participated in the Lego Robot Game. During the initial competition, the league competed in robotics, in addition to the research project.
Lego League members built a robot and were given a course for it to go through, and the competition was timed.
The robot had to complete 15 missions, including tasks such as bowling, lifting weights, building “quilts” and picking up chairs. The robot completed the tasks using components that were built entirely of Legos by league members.
“We programmed the robot to do all kinds of these different missions,” Stolark said.
The theme for the competition changes every year. Smith said the First Lego League is important to her students and Central Magnet Elementary School.
“We are a STEM school, and this program teaches all of those aspects,” Smith said. “Also, I think it helps these students to become leaders.”
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Another category of the competition is Core Values, which Smith said she believes is the most important part. These values are the cornerstones of the program, according to the First Lego League’s website.
The core values include working on a team, working to find solutions, learning
together, honoring the spirit of friendly competition and sharing experiences with others.
Smith said practicing these values have allowed all of her students to learn at least one thing — self-confidence.
More information on the First Lego League can be found at www.firstlegoleague.org.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.