- September 4, 2021
The Electro-Lions robotics team is the pride of Imagine School at Town Center as the team prepares for an international competition that will take place in June.
The Lions are part of the FIRST — “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” — Lego League, a youth robotics competition.
The team will go to Worcester, Massachusetts June 9-11 to compete against 95 teams from 16 different countries.
Six of the students — Peyton Smith, 14; Mollie Smith, 11; Caleb Cook, 11; Quinn Boudreau, 11; Brayden Cook, 12; and Nolin Daley, 11 — are all rookies competing for the first time. Ady Kirks, the team’s seventh member, competed twice before at a different school.
Kristen Cook, the Electro-Lions’ coach, is Imagine School’s Robotics Club facilitator. She teaches STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) courses at the school. The Lions have raised $14,000 of the $15,000 necessary for the trip through local sponsorships and fundraising, Cook said.
“This is my 10th year coaching and being involved in FIRST, so I know what it takes,” Cook said. “I know how hard these kids have worked. And I’m excited.”
This is my 10th year coaching and being involved in FIRST, so I know what it takes. I know how hard these kids have worked. — Kristen Cook, STEAM and robotics teacher at Imagine School
Over the course of the season, from August to April, the Lions have competed in a practice competition, the qualifiers, the regional tournament and the state championship. They have even taken home several trophies already.
The FIRST Lego League encourages innovation, problem-solving and teamwork: Students must work together to earn points. The competition is judged on four elements: innovation, core values, and robotics design and performance.
For the design and performance scores, the teams design their robots to complete various missions, earning points for how many missions are completed successfully. A team can earn up to 345 points for the performance. The Electro-Lion’s highest score is 295, Cook said.
The innovation project includes research and a presentation in which the teams propose solutions to a problem that meets the year’s theme. This year’s theme is “Super Powered,” and the Electro Lions’ project focuses on the millions of birds and bats that die every year from hitting windmills, Cook said.
For the “core values” element, the team must show its process of discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion and teamwork. Cook said the core values element of the competition encourages the team to work together and even support the success of their fellow competitors.
“The core values are the most important part for me, — and, honestly, the main reason why I’ve been doing robotics for so long,” Cook said.
At the qualifiers, the team took the first place Champion’s Award and the Robot Performance Award for the highest score. At regionals, the Lions placed fourth overall, earning a spot at the state championship, and took home first place in the core values category.
Ashleigh Kirk, the mother of Electro-Lions team member Ady Kirks, said the family transferred Ady to Imagine Schools mainly for the team and robotics club after she competed for two years at Wadsworth Elementary.
“This Robotics Club has been the best thing for her,” Kirks said.
Kirks and the parents will be driving to Massachusetts with their kids and will dress up in costumes to support them. She said all the parents are amazed at what the students have accomplished and the life skills the FIRST competition is instilling in the kids.
A great person once told me building robots builds good people. And I truly believe that these kids are learning so much more … than just building robots. — Kristen Cook, STEAM and robotics teacher at Imagine School
Public speaking, teamwork, responsibility, sportsmanship, accountability — these are all skills the students have had to learn to succeed, Kirks said.
Cook said she knows that the skills her students are learning will help them throughout their lives, whether they continue in robotics or not.
“A great person once told me building robots builds good people,” Cook said. “And I truly believe that these kids are learning so much more … than just building robots.”