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Published On: 2/14/13

County Robotics Team Wins Award

By: Staff Writer via Maryland Coast Dispatch

BERLIN -- The Worcester Beach Bots FIRST LEGO League team got off to a celebrated start when it won the Rookie All Star Award at the Maryland FIRST LEGO League State Championship in January.

The team’s robot, named Grandbot, also managed to take 13th place out of a field of the 73 best teams in Maryland, many of which were LEGO League veterans.

Beach Bots coach Michele Kosin said that she is proud of the year her rookie LEGO League team members have had and credited their dedication and sincere interest in robotics and engineering with their strong showing at the state championship.

“I think what actually impressed the judges the most was their passion for it and their enthusiasm,” she said.

The LEGO League championship was a unique challenge, added Kosin. Besides building their robot, students were judged on a variety of other criteria and on their ability to address the event’s main theme, which was “Senior Solutions” this year.

“The competition is not just about the robotic part,” said LEGO League Team Captain Owen Dennis. “We had to make a presentation using a model.”

The team interviewed medical professionals and senior citizens and came up with an idea for a timed pill delivery device.

“It weighs them and an alarm will go off and a light will come on,” said Dennis.

The device also has an alarm if it’s being tampered with and easily organizes and stores multiple forms of medication. After building the machine, the team addressed the theme of Senior Solutions in a mock newscast. Team members also conducted patent research on the device to learn about the process. Judges then grilled students on their engineering knowledge.

“They were quizzed on core values and technical information,” said Kosin.

The team invested a huge amount of effort into the experience, especially for their first year, and it paid off, she continued. The squad received first place amongst rookie teams in every category including Research Project and Presentation, Core Values, Technical Knowledge and Robot Performance, netting team members the overall rookie award.

In Robot Performance, the Worcester team scored 13th out of 73 teams. The field of teams was a mix of rookies and veterans, some with years of LEGO League experience. While that alone was impressive, Kosin pointed out that there are 347 LEGO League teams in Maryland total, many of which Worcester had to beat to be invited to the state championship.

The LEGO League is finished for the year, but Kosin confirmed the county robotics program is already planning for next year. Everyone is looking, she said, to keep the team’s momentum going off of the high-level state championship performance. The team is also aimed at expanding next year and is considering doing multiple teams though no decisions have been made yet.

Continuing the team’s success will fall in large part on the shoulders of the LEGO League mentors, Kosin added. Mentors come from the Worcester Beach Bots high school level team and this year included Gary Qian, Austin Kosin, Danny Beck and Tyler Jenkins.

With the LEGO League season over, Kosin said Beach Bots will be concentrating on high school level competition, including several more tournaments. The program will also be weighing the idea of adding a Junior FIRST LEGO League team to the county next year. Funding options look promising, said Kosin, and several junior teams will be in the area to compete at the June 29 tournament hosted in Worcester.

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