Local First Lego League Team wins first place ‘Grand Champions’ award

by Laural Lovitt
PUBLICATION DATE: 12.06.16

L-R: Catherine Thie, age 11 and Joshua Lovitt, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, Sean Wolfe, age 12, Arbor Hills Junior High: Adam Wolfe, age 10, Whiteford Elementary, Leo Chow, age 9, Central Trail Elementary Reese Krell, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, hoist their winning trophy.
L-R: Catherine Thie, age 11 and Joshua Lovitt, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, Sean Wolfe, age 12, Arbor Hills Junior High: Adam Wolfe, age 10, Whiteford Elementary, Leo Chow, age 9, Central Trail Elementary
Reese Krell, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, hoist their winning trophy.

A local First Lego League Team, the I-BOTS won the coveted first place “Grand Champions” award at the Versailles Regional Tournament held at Versailles High School on Saturday, Nov. 19. As stated by the Masters of Ceremonies, “This team exemplifies all the qualities of FLL.” The team members all represent Sylvania Schools. They include Adam Wolfe, Whiteford, Sean Wolfe, Arbor Hills, Joshua Lovitt, Leo Chow, Catherine Thie, and Reese Krell, Central Trail. The team received the first place “Grand Champions” award and medallions to commemorate their achievement. They were also recognized for their superior Gracious Professionalism with special bands. They earned the opportunity to compete at the District Tournament on Jan.14  held at Bowling Green State University. The team meets at the home of Estel and Jody Lovitt, who are the I-BOTS coaches.

In early fall every year, FLL releases a new challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic. This year’s challenge, Animal Allies, focuses on a solution for a problem that exists between human and animal interactions. Each challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project and the FLL Core Values. Teams participate in the challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a real-world problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FLL Core Values. The I-BOTS created an innovative solution regarding pets living with people with allergies, which is definitely a real-world problem. The I-BOTS designed, built and programmed an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technologies to perform programmed missions based on the Animal Allies theme. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates with high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized “sport,” teams create their individual identity and travel to compete against other teams. Even though they are in competition with other teams, they demonstrate gracious professionalism by sharing knowledge and solutions with the other competing teams.

The Robot Design and Programming judges said that the I-BOTS had the best programming and documentation. The team had a rough start on the game table and was in last place after their second run. After tweaking their programs, their third run put them in third place in the Robot Game with a score of 106. This comeback helped them to win the first place overall “Grand Champions” award.

This season, the I-BOTS discovered that one of the top 10 reasons that pets end up in animal shelters is because of human allergies. They were inspired to help solve this problem and help give more pets a “Forever Home” and allergy sufferers the opportunity to successfully live with a pet. For their project, they created a unique and innovative “Air Quality and Pet Care System” to make this happen. They used a specialized device to measure the allergens in the air by parts per million and then give the family with the allergy sufferer a brochure which includes “helpful tips” to help reduce the allergens in their home. The I-BOTS have partnered with the PET Bull Project of Toledo to help them identify families to test their system and to help the allergy sufferer foster a pet. Once the pet is placed in the home, the I-BOTS refer the family to the brochure for more “helpful tips” on how to take care of the pet to keep down the allergens on the pet itself. The team then tests the air in the home again to see if the allergens are low in the home and determine if the allergy sufferer can live with the dog or cat with little to no allergic response. If all goes well, the family will be able to give the pet a “Forever Home.” The team has already successfully tested this in one home and the Pet Bull Project is already in the process of identifying other families they can help. The I-BOTS, along with the Pet Bull Project, hope to help many others with this “Air Quality and Pet Care System” and help many other allergy sufferers to have a pet and lower the number of pets placed in animal shelters.

FIRST Lego League is an international program for 9 to 16 year old children created in 1998 to get children excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – and teach them valuable employment and life skills.