FIRST Lego League

Stella Maris students embracing robotics



By Ron Giofu


Students at Stella Maris School have embraced robotics, albeit at different levels.

There are about 15 students in the “Wonder League” group while the First Lego League (FLL) team has about ten members. Wonder League is a beginner league with pre-built robots known as “Dash” and “Dot” that students have to program to perform tasks.

“This is the junior version,” explained teacher Deanna Way. “It’s beginner code.”

The First Lego League team has about ten members, ranging in age from 9-14.

Ella Renaud, April Quimby and Molly Parks test out their robot as they are on Stella Maris School’s First Lego League team.

The Wonder League students use a mat in the hallway that is divided into grids. Student Micah Moore explained last Thursday that their task was trying to move a group of paperclips through the grid and have them land on a space labelled E8.

Sarah Shudaifut said she enjoys Wonder League as it allows her to use her brain and figure out what do do to solve a problem.

Way said it is the first year Stella Maris has had a Wonder League team and that it is a lot of “trial and error” thus far. She noted the students have been coming in most lunch hours for the past three months and working together.

“We’re hoping they will continue to like it and get involved in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math programs,” she said.

Christine Parks oversees and coaches the FLL team and noted they came in seventh place in a recent competition.

“We are currently the only First Lego League robotics team competing from Amherstburg,” she said.

Members of Stella Maris’ “Wonder League” team include (front) MIcah Moore, (middle row) Makayla Clarke, Sarah Shudaifat, Felicia Fox, Lily Laur, Helayna Fevreau and (back row) Steven Craner, Brie Sieben, Lucas Boudreau, Luca Fiorito, Kylie Thepvongsa, Alivia Piper and Cohen Sieben.

There were groups of students building robots out of Lego pieces, while others devised programs. Others drove their robots on a track. Parks said they also talk about co-operation and competition during their lunchtime sessions.

“We win by helping each other,” she said.

The FLL team at Stella Maris are the “Raybots,” a play off the school’s “Stingrays” nickname, and Parks noted they are preparing for their second season. She also pointed out the importance of STEM and said they are “engulfed” in it already.

“It’s amazing what they can do when they experience STEM early,” said Parks.

Local robot builders do well at Waterloo competition



By Ron Giofu


A group of local students, including Stella Maris’ Mackenzie Parks, came home from Waterloo with some hardware thanks to their robot building expertise.

Parks, a Grade 8 student at Stella Maris, was part of the Centreline Supersonics team that won the mechanical design award at the 2015-16 Ontario West FIRST Lego League championship tournament in Waterloo. At that same competition, the Supersonics took fourth in the robot playoffs.

Mackenzie Parks, a Grade 8 student at Stella Maris School, is part of the Centreline Supersonics, a team that did well in a recent FIRST Lego League provincial competition.

Mackenzie Parks, a Grade 8 student at Stella Maris School, is part of the Centreline Supersonics, a team that did well in a recent FIRST Lego League provincial competition.

Pointing out the “Trash Trek” theme, Parks said there were a number of recycling based “missions” their robot had to undertake. Whether it be sorting, collecting or disposing of waste, the robot the team constructed earned points for how successful it was doing the drills.

The team also made a video entitled “Bug Farts can save the World,” which is can be viewed on YouTube. They teamed with Progressive Waste Solutions on the video.

“We feel really good about what we did,” said Parks.

Because they didn’t advance to the world competition, the Centreline Supersonics’ season is over but they were happy with how they did. While some Supersonics team members will still compete in the FIRST Lego League next season, others such as Parks move into the FIRST Robotics competition. Parks will be attending General Amherst High School next year and hopes to be part of a newly-launched robotics team at the school.

Centreline, where Parks’ father works, sponsors two teams, he noted. Other members of the Supersonics team come from around Essex County and include Ava Argoselo, Brendan Argoselo, Kurtis Paquette, Jenna Reaume, Luke Reaume, Craig Leopold and Ian Mitchell.