Hundreds Converge for Robotics Competition at CSM

Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s Teams Fill Gym with Competitive Spirit, Enthusiasm

The College of Southern Maryland hosted a spirited day of robotics competition April 14 for area elementary and middle school students at its La Plata Campus that included 52 teams from 28 schools, hundreds of students and hundreds of parents, grandparents, siblings, judges and referees.

Top performers for the day included, Esperanza Middle School teams earning the Overall Tournament Champion Award, Middle School Robot Design and Robot Performance awards, and Leonardtown Elementary School teams earning the Excellence Award, Tournament Runner-up and Elementary School Robot Design and Robot Performance awards. For the complete list of awards and photos, visit http://bit.ly/ILyT4y.

 This year’s First LEGO League (FLL) challenge was “Body Forward” and required teams to build and program robots that would simulate elements of biotechnology research.

Teams began arriving at 8 a.m. to find their assigned pit areas for the morning teamwork, and project and technical judging prior to the 1 p.m. start of the field competition. Volunteers arrived at 7 a.m., some with half-day assignments and others with assignments that would last until the final LEGO piece was packed away for safe keeping until next year’s event.

For the one-day competition, teams began forming in October. Organizers and sponsors, however, work year-round to secure funding, promote CSM’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives, provide team mentors and build the cache of volunteers needed to run the four robotics competitions that CSM hosts each year.

Maurice Wilson, of Waldorf, first considered being a robotics judge when an instructor offered extra credit three years ago. “My first year I set up the competition courses, the second year I helped guide the teams from their pit area to the competition fields and this year I judged the teamwork competition,” said Wilson, who is a CSM computer science major. “Teams were given toothpicks and marshmallows and had to try to construct 10-inch towers,” he said.

Dominaque Green, of Waldorf, a CSM student enrolled in general studies and ultimately pursuing a degree in environmental science, volunteered during the robotics competition for the first time. “It is great to see the passion they have and how some [elementary students] are competing without any adult supervision,” she said. She had the morning shift and would have stayed longer, she said, if she didn’t have to leave for work. “I’ll definitely volunteer again.”

According to CSM Academic Divisions Support Specialist Lindy Galbraith, who coordinates the volunteers, nearly 100 CSM staff, faculty and students as well as community members stepped up to volunteer for the event.

“We simply couldn’t pull off an event like this without the volunteers,” said CSM STEM Director Rob Farinelli, including volunteers such as the deejay, CSM’s Senior Technology Specialist Tony Bates, who supplied a steady stream of music for the elementary and middle school students and spectators to line-dance or enjoy during breaks, such as “Cha Cha Slide,” “Macarena” and the “Cupid Shuffle.”

The CSM Robotics Challenge Junior Division was the last event in a full week of STEM activities at CSM. Sponsors for the week included Grand Sponsor PNC Bank as well as sponsors BAE Systems, The Patuxent Partnership, Inc., Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Charles County Technology Council, Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation, Sabre Systems, Inc., SMECO, Wyle Aerospace Group, CSC SMARTRONIX, Inc., and Compass Systems, Inc. with special thanks to NAVAIR.

For information on CSM robotics competitions, visit http://www.csmd.edu/istem/.

 

Results

 

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Overall Champion Award

Winner: Esperanza Middle School Team 3

Sponsored by PNC Bank, this award is presented to the team that received the highest number of points by working hard as a team to research and develop a course–effective robot.

 

Runner-up Award

Winner: Leonardtown Elementary School Team 1

With thanks to NAVAIR, the Runner-up Award is presented to the team that received the second-highest number of points by working hard as a team to research and develop a course–effective robot.

 

Excellence Award

Winner: Leonardtown Elementary School Team 2

Sponsored by BAE Systems, the Excellence Award is the most prestigious award that any team can win. It measures how the team members inspire and motivate others about the excitement of science and technology, solve problems, and demonstrate respect and gracious professionalism to everyone involved in the competition.

 

Robot Design Award

Elementary School Winner: Leonardtown Elementary School Team 1

Middle School Winner: Esperanza Middle School Team 3

Sponsored by SMECO, the Robot Design award is presented to teams whose work stands out for innovation and/or dependability. To assess innovation, the judges watch the robots work and look for things that make them say, “Wow!” They interview team members to reveal the less-obvious unique and inventive ideas. To assess dependability, the judges interview the teams to learn what solid principles and best practices they used to reduce variability and errors, with preference to robots that best “back it up” throughout the matches.

 

Research Award

Elementary School Winner: Appeal Elementary School

Middle School Winner: Spring Ridge Middle School Team 1

Sponsored by Lockheed Martin, this award is presented to the team that demonstrates the use and understanding of diverse resources to formulate an in-depth and thorough explanation of the team’s point of view and solution to the Challenge project.

 

Robot Performance Award

Elementary School Winner: Leonardtown Elementary School Team 2

Middle School Winner: Esperanza Middle School Team 3

Sponsored by Charles County Technology Council, this award goes to the team whose robot achieves the best score on the competition field or in the elimination round.

 

Project Award

Elementary School Winner: Huntingtown Elementary School

Middle School Winner: Matthew Henson Middle School Team 2

Sponsored by SAIC, the Project Award is presented to the team whose quality research, innovative solutions, and creative presentation best reflect an in-depth understanding of the various scientific disciplines and issues involved with the Challenge project. Only teams that complete all three parts of the project assignment will receive consideration for award.

 

Creative Presentation Award

Elementary School Winner: Barstow Elementary School Team 3

Middle School Winner: Mill Creek Middle School

Sponsored by Sabre Systems, this award is presented to the team that demonstrates an imaginative, creative presentation demonstrating the team’s research and solution.

 

Teamwork Award

Elementary School Winner: T.C. Martin Elementary School Team 2

Middle School Winner: Our Lady Star of the Sea

Sponsored by NASC, this award is presented to the team that best demonstrates extraordinary enthusiasm, an exceptional partnership, and the practice of excellent teamwork.

 

Team Spirit Award

Elementary School Winner: Gale-Bailey Elementary School Team 1

Middle School Winner: Windy Hill Middle School

Sponsored by The Patuxent Partnership, this award goes to the team that most enthusiastically demonstrates a commitment to getting others to see how accessible, fun, and rewarding science and technology can be, especially when you are part of a great team.

 

Community Award

Elementary School Winner: Plum Point Elementary School

Middle School Winner: Piccowaxen Middle School Team 1

Sponsored by Wyle, this award is presented to the team that displays the best community partnership throughout the project.

 

 

 

 

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