TROY — It’s where research, robots and the Cha Cha Slide collide for a full day of fun — First LEGO League style.
Approximately 30 teams from all over the Miami Valley filled the Sinclair Community College Conference Center Saturday as students and coaches spent the day presenting their innovated solutions to the tune of this year’s theme of “Trash Trek.” Teams also showed off their spirit and teamwork skills to judges before wrapping up the day with their LEGO-clad robots running on the tournament’s mission tables.
The Waco Air Museum and Historical Society’s Learning Center sponsored four FLL teams this season. The WacoBots and Waco Circuits advanced to the regional tournament.
Both Waco teams fared well at the regional finals, placing in the top ten in the robot game.
The Waco Circuits team will advance to the state final’s tournament at Wright State University on Feb. 6-7.
The Waco Circuits team includes: Tristan Stanhope, 12, a student at Newton Junior High School; Levi Weldy, 10, a student at Covington Elementary; Bethany Weldy, 12, a student at Covington Junior High School; Connor Apple, 10, a student at Miami East Elementary School; Anwen Harris, 14, a home-school student; and Grace Cole, a Van Cleve sixth grade student.
They are coached by Darren and Laura Stanhope and Chad Apple.
The Waco Circuits team took home a tournament trophy, winning the tournament’s Inspiration Award. The team scored 529 points in the robot game, placing fourth out of 31 teams.
“I liked seeing all the missions the robots could do,” said Levi Weldy. It was his second year participating in FLL. “We named our robot Steve. It’s fun to work with the robotics and LEGOs with other people.”
Harris shared it was her first year to participate on a team. She enjoyed working with other local students on the team’s research project. The Waco Circuit’s research focused on how to turn food waste into animal feed.
“Bethany and I did a lot of research on the project together,” Harris said. “I liked to the competition and working with new people. It was fun getting together to work on this.”
Bethany Weldy said she enjoyed combining her love of animals with research, using her chickens at her farm as inspiration for the team’s research project.
“The project was fun because we came up with new ideas and a new solution to an old problem,” she said. It was her first year to participate in FLL.
Tristan Stanhope was the team’s veteran team member with his four years of FLL experience. It was his first year to advance to the regionals and he now looks forward to the state tournament. Stanhope said he enjoyed helping the team build the robot and programming.
It was Connor Apple’s rookie year to participate on an FLL team. Apple said he enjoyed programming the robot to perform tasks on the table.
“I helped Grace with programming. We worked together to come up with plans on how to complete some of these missions,” Apple said. “It was fun meeting new people and seeing what other teams came up at the tournaments.”
It also was Grace Cole’s first year. She attended a Waco Historical Society’s Learning Center robotics camp last summer and decided to give it the tournament season a try.
“I really like programming and thought it would be a good opportunity to try out,” Cole said. “I liked learning how to use sensors. It was a fun experience.”
The WacoBots team ended its season on Saturday. The team ended up in sixth place in the robot competition. The team presented their invention — the Radical Recycling Robot — to help reduce the chance of recyclable materials ending up in the general trash.
The WacoBot’s team members include Carter Newhouse, 13, a home-school student from Tipp City; Drake Beatty, 12, a home school student from Troy; Jeremy Wolbers, 11, a student at L.T. Ball; Evan Massie, 11, a student at Miami East Junior High; Ben Gregory, 13, a student at Miami East Junior High; Logan Newhouse, 9, a home-school student from Tipp City and Arjun Kurup, a fifth grade student at Concord Elementary.
“My favorite part was being absolutely crazy during our Core Values presentation,” said Beatty. The team wrote its very own “WacoBot Rap” to share the FLL Core Values.
Teamwork was also a highlight for Carter Newhouse.
“I liked working together as a team because we did a lot of fun things together. It was a lot more fun than working by yourself,” Newhouse shared.
Evan Massie, 11, said he enjoyed the season and working on the projects with others.
“It’s fun working together and sharing ideas on how to accomplish tasks,” he said. “I liked seeing what other teams did during the tournaments.”
Kurup said he enjoyed the fun, yet competitive atmosphere of the FLL tournaments.
“I liked doing things as a team and just having fun in general,” he shared. “We played games in between sessions with other kids we just met. It’s a fun environment.”
For more information about First LEGO League and other affiliated programs, visit www.firstinspires.org. For more information about the Waco Historical Society’s learning center and its programs, visit www.wacoairmuseum.org.