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Published: Monday, 11/25/2013 - Updated: 7 months ago

Legos building future in Sylvania

Lego Robotics Expo tests tiny minds at Sylvan Elementary.

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
"Digital Dragons" left of the table, with team members John Roberts, left and Carson Stoller, right, compete against "Octobot", right corner of table, with team members Kaleb Sampson, left, and Halle Tisovic, right. "Digital Dragons" left of the table, with team members John Roberts, left and Carson Stoller, right, compete against "Octobot", right corner of table, with team members Kaleb Sampson, left, and Halle Tisovic, right.
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The Mutant Mind's lego robot that they created and programmed to compete in an upcoming competition. The Mutant Mind's lego robot that they created and programmed to compete in an upcoming competition.
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Lego enthusiasts put on their creative thinking caps to construct autonomous robots that would assist in natural disasters from avalanches to tsunamis.

Eight-year-old Will Rees and his fellow students on the team Twisted Toys, proudly displayed their creations that dealt with avalanche prevention at this year’s Lego Robotics Expo held at Sylvan Elementary School on Monday night. The Sylvan student held up a helicopter, constructed with Legos, showing its small motor specifically made for disasters in a mountainous snowy region.

PHOTO GALLERY: Lego Robotics Expo in Sylvania

“We made a helicopter, a silent helicopter. Because if it was too loud it would make a bigger avalanche,” he said.

His teammate Grant Wilson, 6, also made a snowmobile that had a compartment for medicine, and a built-around barrier to protect the driver from sudden snow slides. To re-create an avalanche, the students put together white Lego blocks on a slant.

The Lego teams, a parent-run, after-school program for Sylvan and McCord Junior High students, were divided into two age brackets: The Junior First Lego League, ages 6 to 9, and the First Lego League, ages 9 to 13. There were six teams, with a total of 40 students participating. The students, supervised by parents, created robots that answered the question “What would you do if your loved ones were involved in a natural disaster or devastating event?”

“They were given different scenarios to pick from, and when they picked an avalanche they were super enthusiastic to build this. They used things like motors and they incorporated simple machines into it,” said parent Grant Wilson, who supervised the Twisted Toys’ project.

Parents and relatives gathered at the school’s gym to view the Lego robots and to see the main event - scrimmage matches between the older teams who constructed autonomous robotics from the colorful building blocks.

One of the beginning matches pitted visiting Lego team from Bryan, Ohio, the Octobots, against McCord’s Mutant Minds.

On a large flat square board were constructed two mini-cities with houses, people, pets, trees, and safe zones.

The children were given two minutes to complete different missions with robotics that included picking up a house during a flood, delivering a supply truck, and rescuing pets and people.

Mutant Minds member Cooper Losey, 12, and his teammate Adam Burnworth, 11, said in the first round match they could not complete their final mission, delivering the supply truck.

Gavin Losey, left, explains the lego robot competition to his grandparents Pat Stoll, center, and Andy Stoll, right. Gavin Losey, left, explains the lego robot competition to his grandparents Pat Stoll, center, and Andy Stoll, right.
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“But we did decent. We completed half of our missions,” Cooper said as his team waited for their scores. Their secret weapon was a rectangular sweeper they designed and programmed to move quickly and make contact with surfaces.

“It’s great. I’m so impressed. It’s so intensive what these kids do. They work weekends,” explained Pat Stoll, Cooper’s grandmother. Her grandson Gavin Losey was also part of Mutant Minds.

The older children will use the expo challenge as a way to gauge the success of their robots or strategy. They will tweak and improve their robotics to prepare for the Dec. 7 regional tournament at the Toledo Technology Academy, said Crystal Burnworth, the lead coach.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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