After the success of last year’s Upper School FIRST Robotics team, Lower School and Middle School students were inspired to follow suit and compete in their own FIRST Lego League regional competition in November. Members of USM’s Team Galactic Girls—one of the youngest teams at the competition—won an Innovation Award for their solution to making space food look more appealing to astronauts through the use of augmented reality glasses.
Students began programming and building their Lego robots on the first day of school, and spent three hours per week after school working on them. “The students really took the reins,” said Brita Willis, 3rd-grade teacher and team coach. “As coaches, we wanted to make sure they learned the process and understood their robot from the inside out. The judges said they could tell that our students did all of the work themselves, and they were impressed by their knowledge and enthusiasm.” Nicole De Torre, 8th-grade science teacher, also served as a team coach.
The students completed some of their work in the school’s Lubar Center for Innovation and Exploration, where Upper School students working on their own robot were available for help. “We hope that getting involved in robotics at a younger age will inspire students to keep up with it as they get older,” said Willis.