- October 5, 2017
Wadsworth Elementary School’s STEM Academy is making a name for itself in Northeast Florida. For the second year in a row, the academy’s fifth- and sixth-graders won grand champion at a local robotics competition to qualify for the FIRST Lego League Northeast Florida Regional Championship, which will be on Feb. 3 in Jacksonville.
Nine young engineers at WES in Team Platinum performed well through all four parts of the qualifying competition on Dec. 16, which was one of about seven in the region. The team conquered each part: robotics game; core values, which shows the members’ abilities to work together as a team; the project, which was to develop a solution to a problem by using water innovatively; and showcasing the robot they built.
“They were very consistent,” said Martin Evans, director of the WES STEM Academy. “That’s what got them through it. They were good at every single aspect of it.”
Team Platinum is made up of fifth-graders Brooklynne Tietje, James Payne, Aurianna Flowers and Cameron Stevens, and sixth-graders Alexandra Pitts, Sabrina Dasilva-Carvalheira, Evan Williams, Kaitlyn Holley and Gavin Palmieri.
“My favorite part was being able to spend the day with my teammates,” Holley said about the qualifying competition. “I loved being able to talk about our project in front of other people.”
In addition to building a functioning robot, the group worked in class and once a week after school to come up with a solution for a problem using hydrodynamics.
“We were using our potable water, that we could be drinking, to fill our pools,” Tietje said about the problem they determined. “So, we thought: ‘What if we caught rain water from our gutters and chlorinated it in a tank to put into our pools?’ And we could use the potable water for other stuff we need.”
During the core values round, each student explained their own words to live by for STEM work.
Pitts said her core value is: “We understand our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers. We work together to find the answers.”
Williams added that he learned that when you work together, you can accomplish twice as much.
The team is going into the regional competition with certainty on their skills, but also a little anxiousness.
“I feel confident, but I’m on a little nervous side because we know we’re not the only ones who have been doing this the past school year,” Dasilva-Carvalheira said. “We think that were going to go in great and come out even better than what we already were.”
Joseph Adona, the WES STEM teacher who primarily works with fifth grade, and Evans will cheer on Team Platinum as they face about 100 other engineering teams in the region for the largest robotics tournament in the state this year.
Evans said he thinks other schools in Flagler County will start to jump aboard with creating STEM academies soon.
“As a teacher, you hardly ever get to see something like that happen,” Evans said. “So, it’s like all that hard work and patience and time we put into it — and to see how excited they are — it’s just what I do my job for. It’s what I do. You want to see and help the students learn and succeed.”
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