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Annual LEGO competition hones students' STEM skills

Two teams put their robots through their paces in the second round of the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament Feb. 3 in Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center.

Two teams put their robots through their paces in the second round of the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament Feb. 3 in Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center. The teams had to produce robots capable of performing a variety of tasks in a set arena. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)

Tabitha Blankenship, 13, works on the Buzz, Buzz, Sting Sting team robot during the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament.

Tabitha Blankenship, 13, works on the Buzz, Buzz, Sting Sting team robot during the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament. The event was sponsored and ran by the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Educational Outreach office. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)

Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, Air Force Research Laboratory commander, presents the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Founder’s Award to the LV Super Bots at the FIRST LEGO League Tournament in the Wright State University Nutter Center Feb. 3.

Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, Air Force Research Laboratory commander, presents the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Founder’s Award to the LV Super Bots at the FIRST LEGO League Tournament in the Wright State University Nutter Center Feb. 3. The WPAFB Founder’s Award goes to the team that best honors the mission of educational outreach and best encourages others to explore math, science and engineering. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)

Team Tech Tornadoes work on their robot at the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament Feb. 3.

Team Tech Tornadoes work on their robot at the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament Feb. 3. Since 2001, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force base has supported the event by providing the funding and volunteers necessary to help run the program. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)

Charles Doxley (left) and Jacob Goings work with their robot during the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament Feb. 3 in Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center.

Charles Doxley (left) and Jacob Goings work with their robot during the FIRST LEGO League Ohio championship tournament Feb. 3 in Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center. Doxley and Goings were members of the Robonauts Return team out of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)

Approximately 60 teams from across the state competed in the FIRST LEGO League Ohio Championship held at the Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center Feb. 3.
  

The annual event, sponsored by the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Educational Outreach Office, brought together 9-to 14-year-old students, who demonstrated their engineering and problem-solving skills, critical thinking, teamwork, competitiveness, sportsmanship and sense of community.

“The biggest benefit for the participants is getting that solid foundation [in STEM],” said Dan Andrews, Wright-Patterson’s K-12 STEM outreach coordinator. “When we’re trying to get folks to come work for the Air Force or for the nation as a whole, we want them to already have that solid foundation of teamwork and cooperation. We’re trying to get these kids from cradle to career.”

This year’s theme for the event was INTO ORBIT. Teams were tasked with identifying physical or social problems faced by humans during long-term space exploration within our sun’s solar system, create an innovative solution to this problem and share their solution with others.

“FIRST LEGO League is an exciting, engaging and fun program in which students get to learn about robots, programming, the engineering design process, teamwork, collaboration and more,” said Brenda Ronnebaum, Ohio’s FIRST LEGO League director and Educational Outreach Office Robotics Program manager. “It’s our goal to show children that math, science and engineering is fun and to encourage them to pursue careers in a STEM-related field.”

Local teams participating included 1923 Robot Raptors (St. Christopher Elementary School), 4505 Vikings of the Cosmos (Community Team), 15866 Thunder-Bots (Northmont), 17361 IDKY (Community Team), 19186 Meteor Crashers (Tri-County North Elementary School), 19619 Waves (Community Team), 20137 ElkBots (Magsig Middle School), 24139 Technonati (The Miami Valley School), 25239 LE’GOrgeous Lego Ladies (Community Team), 32411 QuickBots (Community Team) and 31767 Mindstorm Monsters (Community Team).

Two teams advanced from the FIRST LEGO League Ohio Championship and earned bids to compete at the World Festival in Detroit; two teams earned bids to compete at the Razorback Invitational at the University of Arkansas; two teams earned a bid to compete at LEGOLAND International Open in LEGOLAND, California; and three teams earned a bid to compete at Mountain State Invitational at Fairmont State University in West Virginia

• 297 BrainBots from Cleveland, 24741 Robo Rangers from West Chester - advancing to World Festival.
• 32411 QuickBots from Beavercreek and 19278 Granville Master Builders from Granville - advancing to Razorback Invitational.
• 8220 8 to Automate from Dublin and 32708 Scientific Sorcerers from Granville - advancing to LEGOLAND International Open.
• 15866 Thunder-Bots from Clayton; 2751 Lego Legion from Cincinnati; and 30958 Robotic Rebels from Solon- advancing to Fairmont State Invitational.