By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
The Fastidious Lego Llamas of Beaumont Middle School have received the trophy for robot design at the North American Open Championship in Legoland, near Carlsbad, California.
The five 7th- and 8th-grade girls were among 72 international teams at the May meet, part of the FIRST Lego League robotics competition for fourth through eighth graders. The FIRST acronym stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, said Jeff Lovinger, a father and team coach.
The five include Audrey Lovinger, Taylor Odette, Lucy Hays, Ella Heilbronner and Hannah McCollum.
For the past two years, the team has won second place in the Oregon competition, which draws more than 500 teams, Lovinger said. Their second-place win made them eligible for the North American Open, he said.
For the competition, the girls built a robot with Legos, which has a programmable computer. They gain skills in programming and engineering concepts, Lovinger said.
In the California competition, they had 2.5 minutes to accomplish certain tasks with their robot. They also had to develop an innovative way to teach a skill.
The Fastidious Lego Llamas came up with a way to teach touch typing, without looking at the keys. Many middle-school students don’t have that skill, Lovinger said, because they are accustomed to small devices or they look at a computer keyboard as they type. They no longer have classes for learning to type on a typewriter, as their parents and grandparents may have, Lovinger said.
“Part of the competition was to give a presentation on research and their solution,” he said.
Taylor, the eighth-grader on the team, will go on to high school in the fall, but the other four members expect to continue working on robotics with Legos as middle school students, Lovinger said.
“The girls have younger siblings,” he said. “We’re thinking about starting a team among them.”