CCES robotics team wins trophy for project presentation at super-regional

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The Clear Creek Elementary LEGO robotics team finished its competition year by winning first place in one of the categories at the super-regional contest in Tennessee.The 10-member CCES Master Builders team of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders competed Saturday at the Chattanooga Area Super Regional FIRST LEGO League Robotics Tournament, and while the students won a first-place trophy for project presentation, they won’t be advancing to the state tournament.“I was both shocked and thrilled when the team was named the winner for project presentation at the awards ceremony,” said coach Robin Morrow, who is assisted by fellow teachers Pam Barnette, Susan Gilmore and Laura Hughes. “We were very pleased with their accomplishments, but we didn’t expect to win a trophy. I was even more impressed when I saw the judging sheet. The team earned an exemplary — the highest level — rating in eight out of 10 areas on the project room.”The team members — third-graders Peyton Bowen, Mackenzie Cornett, Colby Edwards, Kaitlin Ferguson, Caleb Goodwin, Brock Slocumb and Bryson Wheeler; fourth-graders Paul Gordy and Gabe Prioreschi; and fifth-grader Luke Collum — competed against 30 others teams from Georgia and Tennessee in four categories: project, robot performance, robot design and core values, Morrow said, noting some teams had students as old as 14.In the project category, teams used this year’s theme, Trash Trek, to identify a problem related to trash and develop an innovative solution. “The CCES Master Builders found CCES was not recycling as much as possible,” Morrow said. “The team researched other items that could be recycled or upcycled — crayons, markers, brown paper towels, lunch trays and milk cartons. In the end, they learned Bartow County does not have the resources to recycle brown paper towels, lunch trays or milk cartons. Ultimately, the team decided to try to improve education and awareness about recycling. They held a newspaper-recycling contest, created a recycling robot and put up signs.”At the competition, team members shared their research and project in a “‘Family Feud’ game-show format for the judges,” which won them the first-place presentation trophy, Morrow said. For robot performance, every team competed in three robot rounds that lasted 2 1/2 minutes each. During the round, teams had to run their robot to complete up to 14 missions on the LEGO table. “Our team completed five missions and had a high score for the day of 277,” Morrow said. “The highest score for each team is the only one that counts.” In the robot-design category, teams are interviewed by judges to evaluate mechanical design, programming and strategy and innovation. And for core values, the judges interviewed team members to evaluate how the team works together and how well the members exhibit gracious professionalism and cooperation.“These are two themes in FIRST LEGO League, where teams are encouraged to compete in the spirit of friendly competition and cooperates with others,” Morrow said. At the end of the competition, trophies are awarded to the top team in each category: Project Research, Project Innovative Solution, Project Presentation, Robot Design Mechanical, Robot Design Programming, Robot Design Strategy and Innovation, Core Values Inspiration, Core Values Teamwork and Core Values Gracious Professionalism.Trophies also are given for the top robot performance, as well as the first-place, second-place and third-place overall champions.To determine who advances to the next level, teams are ranked in each of the four categories, and the top eight teams overall move on to the state tournament, Morrow said. But a team’s robot score also must be in the top 40 percent for the competition to qualify for state.Since the Master Builders didn’t advance, they are finished with competitions for this year, Morrow said. “We celebrated our accomplishments at a team party on Monday,” she said. “Applications for next year’s LEGO robotics team will be distributed to current second- through fourth-graders in March. We hope to have at least two teams next year. The teams will begin meeting this year and will explore programming, teamwork and the new topic of Animal Allies.”According to Morrow, there were 600 FIRST LEGO robotics teams in Georgia, and 220 of them advanced to super-regionals. From there, 80 of them will move on to compete at state. FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology — is an umbrella organization for four programs: Junior FIRST LEGO League (grades K-3), FIRST LEGO League (grades 4-8), FIRST Tech Challenge (grades 7-12) and FIRST Robotics Competition (grades 9-12).