Several Carson City students competed in the FIRST LEGO League Northern Nevada State Championship, bringing home four awards for Carson.
Four teams from Eagle Valley Middle School, Carson Middle School and Fritsch Elementary School competed in the state championship at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The students are a part of the Lego Robotics class at each school, and qualified in December to attend “Championship Saturday.” The theme of the competition was “Trash Trek” and the students had to utilize recycled items and repurposed trash. The students were judged on a research project presentation about their idea, a robot they built and how well they utilized the core values of the LEGO League.
“The kids are so much fun to work with because they get so excited when their project comes together and they complete their missions,” said Lisa Stocke-Koop, the LEGO League coach for Eagle Valley. “They just shine.”
Stocke-Koop had two teams, with 18 kids total, compete in the championship and they took home the Gracious Professionalism Award, for their teamwork and sportsmanship, and The Judge’s Award, for their robot design and structure. One team invented a mobile unit to recycle mercury and the other created a thermoheat generator to burn underbrush and waste and use the fuel in batteries.
“They just really have a great time and the coaches have fun watching them in the competition,” Stocke-Koop said. “They are just all so creative and anywhere you look at that competition, there are smiles.”
The students at Fritsch Elementary also competed at UNR with a new app that acts as a bar-code scanner that provides information to let people know where to recycle electronic waste. They interviewed people from Waste Management, South Tahoe Refuse, and Computer Corps to find out about e-waste and its devastating effects, said Fritsch assistant coach Kristi Howard.
“The team discovered that e-waste shouldn’t go into the landfills due to the fact that computers, TVs, cell phones, etc., are full of toxic waste,” Howard said. “In addition, when people know where to recycle e-waste, some of it can be re-used, which cuts down on having to continue to pull these elements from the earth.”
The Fritsch team was awarded the Teamwork Award and second alternate for the North American FLL Championships, for their project.
“We practiced hours and hours to get to the finals, and what it felt like was that all that work was worthwhile,” Howard said. “It was really satisfying to see these fifth-graders compete against kids as old as eighth-graders and hold their own in all aspects of the competition. We were competitive in every event and that, alone, is really satisfying. To win is the icing on the cake!”
None of the teams made it past the state championship onto the national competition this year, however, the students at Carson Middle School received a first alternate for the Global Innovation Award for their machine that turns one-use plastic into usable fuel.
The students originally started research to create an Adopt-A-Beach program, similar to the Adopt-A-Highway program, where people paid to have segments of the beach cleaned four times a year. However, they realized a large percent of the trash picked up at the beach was just plastic that would just get sent to a landfill, said coach Rhonda Holloway. They then built a plastic distillery machine to take that plastic and turn it into usable kerosene fuel.
“They were so excited to take a product that would just end up in a landfill and turn it into something usable,” Holloway said. “They were thrilled when they saw the oil dripping into the bottle.”
The 10 students who made up the team won the Innovative and Strategy Award at the Competition, but didn’t find out for about a week they were first alternate for the Global Innovative Award.
“It is really exciting for them to be recognized because they didn’t just stop at cleaning up the beaches, they took it a step further,” Holloway said. “We are so proud of them because they are taking real world problems and working on a solution. We are proud that they are willing to put together this project that makes them the future leaders of tomorrow.”