Poway-area students win first Lego League Southern California Championship
A Poway-area robotics team, made up of children aged 10 to 14, won the inaugural Lego League Southern California Championship held on December 12 at Poway High School.
The team, MC2, beat 152 teams from San Diego in the qualifying tournament as well as 49 regional competitors, and will compete in the international championship in Arkansas in May.
The First Lego League is an international competition that teaches children about teamwork, inclusion, innovation, how to impact their community and how to discover new things, organizers said. It also teaches kids how to have fun and appreciate the work they put into their robot.
âThe initial challenge, as posed by the guidelines from the first competition, was to create a system that would improve the future transport of materials, making shipping more efficient and sustainable,â said John McCague of Poway, the adult trainer. from the MC2 team. “Our team has gone from one level to the next in tackling the problem of plastic waste and its impacts on both shipping and the natural environment.”
The seven-member team, made up of children attending charter schools in Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos and Escondido, participated in four components: innovation project, robot performance game, robot design and values fundamental.
In the innovation project, the team was asked to solve freight problems. The team created and operated a prototype robotic system aimed at reducing plastic waste and transport associated with plastic dumping around the world. Additionally, the team designed and built a robot to solve challenges within a tabletop competition and collaborated with other teams to share ideas and strategies.
The team’s project demonstrates how shipping can be drastically reduced by recycling and reusing plastic bottles as a material for 3D printing items for home or business use, the team leaders said.
MC2 cut the plastic bottles into strips, which are reformed into a filament which is fed into a 3D printer. Team members nicknamed the project the Bubba Shredder. (Bubba is the team’s name for a plastic water bottle, which has become their unofficial mascot for the competition.)
Team members started their project in August, meeting in person an average of three times a week and spending at least 10 hours together. The team also met weekly for individual research, programming and other tasks.
The team was mentored by members of Poway High School’s robotics team, Team Spyder.
âThe team members felt ethically responsible for tackling the ‘lesser known’ freight issue of shipping recyclables overseas, thus contributing to the freight export industry. with the desire to localize the plastic waste consumption loop, âsaid Chloe Raya-Ortiz, member of MC2, 14, of Rancho Bernardo.
They also received advice from EDCO Escondido, 3D Printing Solutions, Precious Plastics, The Classical Academy, Boeing Aerospace and 3D HQ, as well as financial support from Financial Cornerstone Inc. and AMP-Optics.
âWe have received invaluable guidance from EDCO,â said Jillian Smith, 12, from Escondido, a member of the MC2 team. “They showed us how 4.3 billion pounds of plastics are shipped from the United States around the world each year, and how 79% of that plastic is buried in landfills or dumped in the ocean rather than recycled.”
Announcing the winner of the competition, FIRST officials noted that âthe robotics experience goes beyond building robots or participating in competitions.
âIt may draw you in with the robot, but more importantly, it’s defined by how the kids come together to form a team,â officials said. âFirst Lego League has an impact on each of you as individuals and as members of the team. The Champion’s Award celebrates the ultimate. It measures how children inspire others about the accessibility and enthusiasm of science, technology, engineering and math while demonstrating respect, encouragement and continued professionalism.
The MC2 team will compete in the international level competition to be held at the University of Arkansas from May 19-22. Organizers expect more than 80 teams to participate in the Razorback Open Invitational, representing students from across North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Africa .
MC2 members are planning their next steps for the competition, which will include fundraising for travel. For more information on MC2, visit the team’s website at https://sites.google.com/view/fll-robotics-teammc2.