Nicholson kids rock robots

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 15, 2016

One of the robotics teams from Nicholson Elementary qualified to compete at the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO® League state competition in Vicksburg in March after showing off their engineering skills during the regional competition in Biloxi.

Michelle Carter, librarian at Nicholson Elementary, along with other volunteers at the school, helps coach students and teaches them how to solve real-world problems using STEM applications, which focus in science, technology, engineering and math.

“The students get to pick their team names and design the robot. We teach them how to use the program, but its there choice where it goes,” Carter said.

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The school currently has two robotics teams— Crazy Creations and LEGO Braniacs— made up of 14 fourth, fifth and sixth-graders in total. During regionals, which took place in December, the latter placed first in the robot competition in December, qualifying them to compete in the state competition this year.

This year’s theme, “Trash Trek,” challenges the teams to solve the world’s trash problems. Each team must build and design an EV3 robot and create a program that runs the robot autonomously. They have two minutes and 30 seconds to complete as many simulated missions with their robot as possible including recycling materials, composting waste and restoring an old car.

“It teaches students how to strategize to see what missions they should do and what’s most efficient in the amount of time they have,” Carter said.

Teams from across the state of Mississippi will compete in March in hopes of moving on in the competition.

For the past 11 years, Nicholson Elementary has promoted STEM and they have 11 FIRST awards to show for it.

The teams meet after-school several times a week and are supported through fundraisers and grants.

Carter said their goal is to encourage the younger generation to learn about STEM and better understand science and technology.