After more than a decade of coaching robotics teams, Clear Creek Elementary GATEWAY teacher Robin Morrow finally got her grand championship.
The seven-member CCES Master Builders Small Town Reds defeated eight other teams and took home the grand champion title at the second annual FIRST LEGO League Robotics Community Tournament Jan. 25 at Georgia Highlands College’s Cartersville campus.
“In my 11 years of having FIRST LEGO League competition teams, I have never had a team earn the grand champion award,” said Morrow, who coaches the team with third-grade teacher Laura Hughes. “I was especially proud to watch this team of students work so well together throughout the season.”
The team included four students with experience and three rookies, and the “veteran students remembered their experiences last year and wanted to come out strong this year,” she added.
Members of the grand champion team that named its robot Red Charm were fifth-graders Connor Holcombe and Eli Stokes; fourth-graders Canyon East and Wendy Scott; and third-graders Bowen Bryant, Caelynn Disbrow and Ella Howe.
Canyon, 10, said he was “really excited” about winning the overall award “because my team and I worked so hard on everything.”
“We were thinking we were not going to win anything, but when we won the grand champions award, we were so excited,” he said. “I think our team did pretty good at the beginning. At the end of the competition when we were the grand champs, I thought we did great.”
Other teams competing in the tournament, hosted by GHC and the GHC Center for STEM Learning, were Adairsville Middle, White Elementary Ironman, CCES Master Builders teams Teal Park Rangers and Team Orange Traffic Cone Heads and new teams Adairsville Elementary Tiger Bots, Cass Middle Mission Possible, Kingston Elementary and Hershel Jones Middle from Paulding County.
Exhibition teams were CCES’s first-grade GATEWAY Builders, second-grade GATEWAY Fuchsia Team Great Falls and second-grade GATEWAY Navy Team Wild Builders and Hershel Jones Middle from Paulding County.
The competitive teams, made up of third- through eighth-graders, battled each other for top scores in four categories – Core Values, Innovative Project Presentation, Robot Design and Robot Game – and the Champions Award trophy and individual medals were presented to the team with the highest overall combined score for the tournament.
Winning a first-place team trophy and individual medals for the category competitions were WES for Core Values, CCES Master Builders Orange Traffic Cone Heads for Innovative Project Presentation, CMS for Robot Design and CCES Master Builders Small Town Reds for Robot Game. All participants received a certificate.
“We are very excited of our first win here at Cass Middle School,” said eighth-grade teacher Kaitlyn Kokal, who coaches the team with Jennifer Martin from White Elementary. “I am beyond proud of my team winning Robot Design. In robotic competitions, Robot Design is a difficult category to win in since it is based off the students’ strategic ability of coding their robot to solve tasks on the robot competition board. The kids did a great job running their robot. They were able to problem-solve when issues arose during the competition and work as a team.”
The team was made up of sixth-graders Derris Reece, Mitchell Martin, Abi Harper, Kaleb Bunch and Connor New and their robot, Athena, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, mathematics, strength, strategy and skill.
WES GATEWAY teacher Lannette Layton, who coaches with second-grade teacher Cathy Bishop, said she was “very proud” of her team for winning the Core Values category, which shows discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun.
“LEGO League teaches life skills that will help team members throughout their life,” she said. “So winning Core Values was very special.”
Layton added the team “worked diligently throughout the season, and the tournament, organized by GHC professor Sharryse Henderson and her team and judged by GHC faculty, staff and volunteers, gave the students “an opportunity to showcase their learning and abilities.”
The team – which named its robot JARVIS, Just A Rather Very Intelligent System – consists of fifth-graders Josh Dundon, Zainab Tariq and Taylor Hicks and fourth-graders Hannah Clackum, Judith Good, Audrey (no last name) and Cole Davis.
CCES fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Stanfield was “ecstatic” that her Orange Traffic Cone Heads, also coached by Morrow, won the Project Presentation category.
“They have worked extremely hard the entire season,” she said. “The team members all contributed to the kit and presentation. We wanted it to demonstrate the problem and solution that we researched – the intersection at Highway 41 and Pleasant Valley Road near our school. This was an important project for us because many of us are impacted by the congestion of the intersection during pickup and drop-off times.”
Stanfield said the coaches and students also “feel that the intersection is unsafe.”
“We worked with members of the Georgia Department of Transportation and our school system transportation director to learn more about the issues and obstacles to research and present solutions we felt would be the best,” she said.
Making up the team whose robot is named Timmy the Traffic Trooper are fifth-grader Lily McCormick; fourth-graders Paige Babcock, Jessie Hardin, Brynen Herron and Braden Slocumb; and third-graders Libby Bowman and Anne Marie Crumpton.
Morrow said she was “proud of how the students worked together to teach each other the missions they learned and their logic in deciding the order of their missions” during the Robot Game competition.
“I was also pleased with their gracious professionalism and cooperation because they helped the other teams and CCES by supporting each other with programming knowledge and game strategy,” she said.
The coach as well as Principal Dr. Kelly Wade were thrilled and proud of all of the CCES teams for their performance in the tournament.
“FIRST LEGO League requires a significant commitment in terms of time and energy,” Morrow said. “The Small Town Reds team worked very well together, and I am glad their efforts resulted in so much success at the competition.”
“It has been an honor to monitor the progress of our LEGO teams this school year,” Wade said, noting he’s also proud of the four coaches. “They have really advanced their knowledge base and taken that knowledge and put it into practical application. That hard work came to fruition on [Jan. 25].”
At the tournament, teams competed in three Robot Game rounds and three judging rooms for the other categories based on this year’s FIRST LEGO League theme, “City Shaper,” which asked builders of tomorrow to “design and build better places to live and work for everyone” using their problem-solving skills and creativity, Morrow said.
“The caliber of competition increased this year,” she said. “This year’s competition included teams with a variety of experience, but all of the teams competed in all areas. You will often find rookie teams choose to only compete in one or two areas.”
Morrow said students who work as a team toward a common goal are “using and refining the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving.”
“Through FIRST LEGO League, I love to see students also expand their skills in math, reading, research and public speaking,” she said, noting Bartow County’s participation also has expanded from one school for 12 years to three schools last year to six schools this year.