Maui Students Gather for Robotics Tournament

November 10, 2011, 1:59 PM HST
* Updated November 10, 2:35 PM
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The Mechanical Menehune, made up of 6th and 7th graders at Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus, will be competing in this weekend's robotics tournament. Photo courtesy of Vierra.

By Sonia Isotov

Students from around Maui County will all come together at the Maui High School Cafeteria on Saturday, November 12, to participate in the second Maui district tournament of the FIRST Lego League (FLL) Hawaii Robotics Tournament.

Students, ages 9-14 years old, will compete on 18 different teams as they maneuver their robots through various tasks at the Maui High School Cafeteria. The public is encouraged to come down and watch this exciting event on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Presentations (restricted to participants only) will be held earlier in the day, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Six state berths will be at stake. Last weekend’s district tournament at Pomaika`i Elementary resulted in two Moloka`i teams qualifying for the State FLL Tournament held on December 3, 2011 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

Children ages 9-14 will participate in the tournament. Photo courtesy of MEDB.

Each year, teams are challenged to design, build and program an autonomous robot out of LEGO elements to solve a real world issue. The theme for 2011 is food contamination. Teams are expected to build, test, and program their robot to solve a set of “food safety” missions as well as research, develop, and share their innovative food safety solutions.

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“Our team has been working hard to promote ‘Gracious Professionalism.’ It’s been a challenging and rewarding experience. Good luck and have fun to all the teams,” said, Gertrude Vierra, a science teacher at the Maui Campus of Kamehameha Schools in Pukalani. Vierra has several teams competing including the Mechanical Menehune team comprised of 6th and 7th graders. [see photo].

Members of the Molokai Gleeks robotics team are seen competing. Photo courtesy of MEDB.

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The Food Factor Challenge gives teams the opportunity to explore the topic of food safety and examine the possible points of contamination that our food encounters – from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsafe processing and transportation, to unsanitary preparation and storage – then find ways to prevent or combat these contaminates.

FIRST LEGO League is an international organization that introduces students to the fun and experience of solving real-world problems by applying math, science and technology (STEM).

In Hawaii, FLL is supported by the Women in Technology (WIT) Project, an initiative of the Maui Economic Development Board, Inc. (MEDB). WIT’s goal is to motivate students toward STEM careers by capturing and sustaining their interest in STEM education at an early age.

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“MEDB’s Women in Technology is thrilled to see the excitement of our Maui County students as they experience the Maui FLL tournament. As we continue to engage our students in STEM education, robotics is one example that brings together critical thinking, teamwork and research.  Our goal is to provide programs of excellence to our Maui County students to help connect the dots between STEM and the real world applications,” said Isla Young, a program manager with MEDB.

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