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Nightengale Robotics team wins first-place award for research

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MASSENA - Nightengale Elementary’s Robotics Team, Just Easy, took first place in the research project category at the recent First Lego League Robotics competition at Clarkson University.

Sixteen teams from around the state competed in three categories—a research project, robot game and core values (teamwork).

The research project requires students to research a problem, develop a solution and present what they learn to judges via PowerPoint, video, or a play. Nightengale’s team chose to do a play.

“The object of this year’s research project, ‘Senior Solutions,’ was to learn about problems seniors face, then identify a specific problem that limits a senior’s ability to stay independent and engaged and then come up with a solution,” said Robotics team volunteer coach William Lint.

The team members developed questions to uncover challenges of older people. The team interviewed community seniors and pooled their information. They soon noticed some common themes throughout the seniors they interviewed. They compared their research to national trends, looked at data as a whole and finally narrowed their focus on the problem of the “loss of grip.”

The team play featured three doctors and three seniors. The seniors described problems they were having to the doctors who explained the ailment in greater detail. The remaining four members were sales people and customers whose conversation revealed information about the team’s solution, a push button doorknob they named the Easy Button.

The play, which can only last five minutes, is followed by a question and answer session with the judges about the research and findings.

“One unique thing our team did this year was build an actual model of our door mechanism out of egos. That was a hit with the judges,” said Mr. Lint.

For the Robotics Game, the team built three different robots, tested them and chose the best features from each to build a new robot to use at the competition. As far as scoring goes, judges mainly look for your single highest round. If you were to look at the cumulative score, Just Easy had the highest overall.

The last category, Core Values, is assessed throughout the day. Judges watch to see if the students are having fun, working together, being respectful, and not only help each other, but other teams as well. Judges measure Core Values by “Gracious Professionalism” (being respectful) and” Cooperatition” (fierce competition blended with a willingness to help another team if you have the opportunity).

“Our team worked on their research project and their robot game and they were very successful in both of them. They had solid core values – they were respectful and worked great together,” Mr. Lint said.

“It was great to see how they pulled everything together and take it seriously but still have fun. I was extremely proud of how they acted and how they worked throughout the day. Before going into the award ceremony, I told them that it doesn’t matter if we get an award or not because the way they performed they should be proud of themselves – how they conducted themselves, worked as a team and really put their best foot forward in representing Nightengale,” said Mr. Lint.

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