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Students show they are in a league of their own

Posted on Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Twelve Arnold Engineering Development Complex sponsored local teams demonstrated their best skills and qualified to advance to the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) State Competition after competing in the regional qualifying competition at Tullahoma High School last month.

AEDC sponsored team The Robo Tigers, from Fayetteville Middle School, won the Research Award during the recent FIRST LEGO League State Competition.

AEDC sponsored team The Robo Tigers, from Fayetteville Middle School, won the Research Award during the recent FIRST LEGO League State Competition.

The teams that will advance are Clark Memorial School of Winchester, College Street Elementary School of Manchester, East Middle School of Tullahoma, Fayetteville Middle School, Hillsboro Elementary School, Jacobs of Tullahoma, Liberty Elementary and Middle School of Shelbyville, McFadden School of Excellence in Murfreesboro, South Middle School of Cowan, Westwood Middle School of Manchester and Woodland Elementary School of Bradyville.

The 2013 FLL challenge is Nature’s Fury. The challenge includes programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field and developing a solution to a problem they have identified guided by core values. Nature’s Fury presents natural disasters where teams will discover what can be done when intense natural events meet the places people live, work and play.

Nature’s Fury missions include the following: position an evacuation sign; clear an airplane’s runway from debris; land a cargo plane safely on a runway; relocate structures; distribute water to people in need; and deliver supplies.

Volunteer coaches assist students on the teams with the design and construction of a robot, made from LEGO parts, which completes the challenges. First Lt. Chance Johnson, a volunteer from AEDC, is a coach for the College Street Elementary School team, Mass Destruction.

“My role was to facilitate two practices a week as the team prepared for the regional qualifier competition,” he said. “I volunteered because I thought it was a great opportunity to teach young people about science, technology, engineering and math and its importance in solving many of the problems we face today including natural disasters. The most memorable moment for me was seeing the kids’ eyes light up as their team name, Mass Destruction, was called for the Gracious Professionalism Award at the qualifying event.”

More than 24 volunteers assisted in different capacities at the event. AEDC Volunteer Debbie Barnes admitted she had fun as a referee.

“It takes many volunteers to accomplish a big, worthwhile event like this, so I was glad to pitch in and help,” she said. “Lego League exposes science concepts to children in such a fun and creative manner. I was very impressed with the behavior of the Lego League teams. The children were very respectful to us and to their coaches and mentors. They thanked us for volunteering, listened intently to our scoring assessments and exhibited the core values of the program that they were taught.”

AEDC STEM Coordinator Jere Mattly expressed his appreciation for the assistance provided by the coaches, mentors, teachers and Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers. He also remarked about the outstanding support that was received from Brian Coate and the Tullahoma Utility Board; the Tullahoma High School venue provision; and the Franklin County Carpentry Class who made the LEGO League tablets for the event.

Matty said, “I have to salute the National Defense Education Program, Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA) and the Air Force, specifically Col. Raymond Toth (AEDC commander) for their critical support for our Educational Outreach Program.”