The Highland Elementary Robotics team.

Due to their robot performance, two Highland Elementary School teams qualified to go on to the National Championship Tournament at Forest Lake Academy just outside Orlando, Fla.

Highland has a 5th and 6th grade team - Highland Halos, as-well-as a 7th and 8th grade team - Supersonic Robotechs. Both scored well at the qualifying tournament at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., back in April of this year.                

Since Robotics Club starts in 5th grade, three-fourths of our team was new. There are three girls and five boys, totaling eight team members. Our team started in September, practicing about two times a week.

All Adventist Robotics First Lego League teams have to work on a community project, developing core values, engineering a robot’s design and perfecting their robot’s performance.

At the beginning of the year, our team learned about the theme, Into Orbit. Then we learned about the project where we were supposed to solve a physical, social, or technological problem in space.

Our team, the Highland Halos, worked on the idea that there is a space problem in outer space, which means there is not enough space in outer space to bring all of the astronauts’ trash back down to earth.

First we had an idea of dissolvable bags, but we realized that astronauts needed to save their water supply. Our team’s second idea was to make a bike compactor. By pedaling, the trash compactor would compress; tackling both physical and practical needs.

Another aspect of being on a First Lego League team is focusing on our core values. This involves discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun. Teamwork was the quality the judges saw stand out in us.

Our team uses Mindstorm coding to program our plastic EV3 robot so that is can complete missions on the playing field without our team touching it. To help complete missions, we built attachments out of Legos and use up to four motors to assist the robots movements.               

The day of the National Championship Tournament we were responsible for three judging stations where we showed our team’s project solution, teamwork skills and design process of our robot.

In the afternoon, we had the challenge to complete multiple missions on the playing field for points within 2.5 minutes. We had three attempts to reach our best score.

Our team, the Highland Halos, came home with 3rd place in Project. We also walked away learning from this experience that no matter what place we come in , we knew we did our best, we learned about how we can impact our world around us using technology and we grew as a team. It was rewarding to celebrate our achievements together as a team.

The Adventist Robotics program has been in operation for the past 15 years. It was begun because First Lego League tournaments are generally held on Saturdays. The Adventist Robotics, a partner of First Lego League, holds its tournaments on Sundays. It began with 13 teams in the first tournament in 2005 and has grown to more than 200 teams this season (2018-19 school year).

This year, the teams competed in one of seven regional qualifying tournaments to be eligible to compete in the championship tournament held at Forest Lake Academy.  This year’s final tournament, on May 5, brought together the largest number of teams competing for the championships. Adventist schools and homeschooled students from all across the United States were represented through 37 teams. 

Georgia Beckworth is a 5th grade student and a Highland Halos team member.

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