South Lancaster Academy’s (SLA) two middle school robotics teams traveled to Pine Forge Academy, PA to compete in a FIRST Lego League competition organized by Adventist Robotics League. They took first place in innovation, first place in core values, and third place in robot design.
Faculty sponsor, Veronica Iria, and Dionne Blackwell, an engineer who volunteers from the community, worked with the students from September to February to prepare for the two parts of the competition. For part one, they build a robot from a kit and learn how to code the robots to complete different challenges at the competition. For the second part, they brainstorm an invention or make improvements on an existing invention according to the year’s theme and create a presentation to give at the competition. This year’s theme was renewable energy. One team brainstormed a phone charger that is powered by riding your bicycle. It had already been invented, so their idea was to add a battery to store the energy, and a solar panel and a hand crank as additional power sources. The second team came up with an idea for solar panels on the blades of a windmill so that it could generate power from both wind and sun.
“The kids learn critical thinking, problem solving, and communication because we work on presentation skills. Something like this can also bring out leadership [skills],” said Iria. “Dionne and I really want to expose the kids to the field of computer science and coding, engineering and inventions, and just expand their minds in this area.”
South Lancaster Academy also offers robotics teams for grades 2 – 4 and grades 8 – 12. Homeschoolers and students from other SDA schools are invited to participate as space permits.