Johnston Student Earns Trip To St. Louis At Lego Contest
Mae Lynn Harrington is on the St. Mary Academy-Bay View team that recently won the Rhode Island competition.
The Rhode Island First Lego League Championship Tournament culminated in a stiff competition at Roger Williams University campus in Bristol on Saturday, Jan. 15. The public crowded the field house to watch elementary and middle school teams from all over RI and MA put their research presentations and robotic designs to work.
St. Mary Academy-Bay View, an all-girls squad, and all the other competitive teams showed off their skills in problem solving, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This year the teams were charged to build an autonomous robot to carry out pre-designed challenge missions in matches lasting 2 minutes and 30 seconds, then analyze, research and invent a solution to a real world problem in the Biomedical or Biotechnology field.
Fifty-eight teams competed for a chance to take on the teams from 30 different countries at the FIRST Lego League World Festival on April 27-30 in St. Louis, Missouri and the S.M.A.R.T. team from Saint Mary Academy-Bay View carried the day. Mae Lynn Harrington, an eighth-grader from Johnston, is a member of the winning team.
The Bay View team, as part of the national contest, is seeking votes on its S.M.A.R.T. website. Log on here to add your vote.
Each member from the S.M.A.R.T. squad also won $5,000 scholarships, renewable for four years, to Roger Williams University, which hosts the FLL competition.
First Lego League is a global program created to get children excited about science and technology. Students between the ages of 9 and 14 solve challenges based on real-world scientific problems. The S.M.A.R.T. victory certainly proves girls can not only love science and technology, but also excel.
S.M.A.R.T.’s innovative idea is to design a pair of glasses with LIDAR sensors to assist blind people and allow them to be independent. The sensors, using light detectors and radar, would continually scan the area to determine if an object were in the way of the person wearing the glasses. If an object or change in elevation was detected, a signal or voice (like a GPS) would be transmitted to an earpiece attached to the arm of the glasses. Additionally, the glasses would be charged by solar, much like calculators are.
The team robot, "Becky," as the girls call it, had a few minor problems in their first round of competition. The girls returned to the “pit” area for some minor programming adjustments and were thrown into their second match after rushing back from call-back judging. The girls and the robot had a great run and moved them into third place, where they finished the day, in the robot challenge.
This, along with their impressive presentation and technical skills in front of some 50 judges, brought them the 1st Place Champions Award.
Linda Grasso, Technology Instructor and coach for the Bay View Elementary and Middle School team, along with co-coach Erica Cross, was very excited by the victory.
“We are so proud of this team! These girls have worked so hard and logged many hours of practice to carry out the task given and make their creation shine among of field of such strong competition,” said Grasso, who continued: “At Bay View, we continue to develop a rigorous science, math, and technology program specifically designed to build our girls into critical thinkers who will be ready for the new global economy. These girls achieved much today for themselves and girls everywhere.”
Cross added: “Today was about hard work, smarts, creativity and a little bit of girl power!”
The Bay View team also included fifth-graders Rebekah Pendrak and Blaine Lynch-Gadaleta of North Providence; seventh-graders Jacqueline Capuano of Cranston, Allison Cross of North Providence, Allison Paul of Pawtucket, and Megan Nadeau of North Kingstown; and eighth-graders Alix Santos of Swansea, Mass., and Sarah Healy of Bristol.