By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Robotics teams from Northeast Ohio came to Austintown Middle School to compete for three spots in the FIRST LEGO League statewide tournament Jan. 11.
FLL is a robotics program designed to get children excited about science and technology while teaching life skills such as team-work, communication, and work ethic.
The district tournament pitted the top ten teams of students ages 9-14 from Ohio’s Northeast region, and challenged them with nature’s fury.
The teams needed to come up with a natural disaster, a location where that could happen, and an innovative idea to help out during that natural disaster, said Andy Yantes, event coordinator.
The day-long tournament included a morning of judging. The teams were judged on their project, core values and robot design. Robot matches, which were open to the public, took place during the afternoon. A combination of points accumulated from the matches and the judging determined the final ranking.
Haley Woods, a fifth-grade student at Austintown Intermediate School, joined the Austintown Mad Scientists team this year.
“I think that it is really cool because I like robots and I like Legos,” she said.
She also has made friends in the program.
“Sometimes we might get mad at each other, but we still work together and become friends again,” she noted.
The team meets every Monday and Thursday, Woods said.
Another Austintown team, the Biohazards, participated, as well.
“It’s a really good kids’ leadership program,” said Ron Giovannone, coach of Biohazard.
The winners of the Jan. 11 tournament advanced to the FLL Ohio State Tournament. It will take place Feb. 8 and 9 at the Ervin J. Nutter Center of Wright State University in Dayton.