A team of local students marked a milestone Wednesday as members geared up for their first Lego robotics competition of the year, this weekend in Sudbury.
Sunset Park Public School’s team Brain Freeze unveiled a research project to a group of parents and teachers as part of this year’s FIRST Lego League challenge.
The challenge not only requires the team of 10 students to build and program a Lego robot to take on certain tasks, it also calls for the completion of a project that ties in with this year’s theme – learning unleashed.
The group of students from grades 4-8 came up with an innovative way to teach the visually impaired how to fish.
The students researched how the blind learn best, including consulting with a teacher, as well as someone who is visually impaired.
And they came up with series of scripts to help the person visualize the scenario, coupled with hands-on tasks that focus on the use of touch. In addition, the team developed a kit, complete with fishing rod, net and tackle box that’s labelled with braille.
“The program is great. It’s building leaders,” said coach Bryan Kelso, who’s son is a member.
He said the students learn about construction, computer programming, business and marketing.
“They do a little bit of everything and they have a great time doing it,” he said, noting the Lego robotics league is one of the few programs almost entirely led by students.
All of the decisions about how to build the robot, as well as the research project, are up to the team, he said.
“It’s fun. You get to build robots,” said Kelso’s son, Jared.
The Grade 7 student has been involved with the team since its inception three years ago. In its first year, Jared said the team didn’t compete, but focused instead on learning about the league and how to build and program robots.
The team, sponsored by FIRST Team 1305 of the Near North Student Robotics Initiative, has come a long way since then, he said.
Wednesday marked the overall efforts of the group since it began preparing for this year’s regional competition in August. Both the robot and project are ready to go head to head against other teams in the league, including two from this area – Icetrocities Team 8 and Icebreakers Team 123.
The top two teams in the regional event this weekend qualify to move on to a provincial competition.
Brain Freeze team members include Isabella Brotherston, Jared Kelso, Allyson Sgoifo, Tyler Hampel, Connor Campbell, Jacob Rogers, Scott Roberg, Colten Buckton and Kira Buckton.
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