Kamehameha’s Mechanical Menehunes Win Robotics Tournament

November 13, 2011, 11:07 PM HST
* Updated November 17, 7:36 AM
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The Mechanical Menehune, made up of 6th and 7th graders at Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus, will be competing in this weekends robotics tournament. Photo courtesy of Vierra.

The Mechanical Menehune, made up of 6th and 7th graders at Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus, were the overall winners at last weekends robotics tournament. Photo courtesy of Vierra.

By Sonia Isotov

Maui Mechanical Menehunes from Kamehameha School’s Maui Campus were the overall winners and district champion in the Maui FIRST Lego League (FLL) Tournament held this past Saturday at Maui High School.

In total, six Maui County teams earned a slot in the statewide FLL Tournament to be held on Oahu at Neal S. Blaisdell Arena on December 3.

The Maui FLL Tournament award recipients included the following:

PROJECT – Kualapuu
CORE VALUES –MauiWaena FE2
ROBOT DESIGN – Upcountry Crushers
ROBOT PERFORMANCE – Tie between Torch ‘Em and the Mind Reapers
DISTRICT CHAMPIONS – Mechanical Menehunes

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Teams advancing to the state tournament will be Kihei Robotics, Mechanical Menehunes, Mind Reapers, Rambots, Sapphires, and Upcountry Crushers.

Maui County Councilman Don Couch with the Molokai robotics team. Photo courtesy of MEDB.

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Maui, Molokai, and Lanai students, teachers, mentors, and community members flooded Maui High School campus to participate in this year’s “Food Factor” themed competition.  Student teams were responsible to not only program a robot, but also conduct a research project focused on the year’s theme of “Food Factor.” Student teams showcased their research project, technical skills, core values (teamwork), and gracious professionalism.

“The level of enthusiasm and analytical skills was amazing. These kids knew their stuff and were intense and very passionate about the competition. It was refreshing to see such a great group of kids,” said Don Couch, Maui County Council member, who attended the robotics competition.

Kihei robotics team (red) stands ready. Photo courtesy of Don Couch.

MEDB’s Women in Technology (WIT), partnered with Maui High Schools STEMworks, FIRST Robotics team, Digital Media, and the Maui Waena’s Digital Media program to offer the largest FLL qualifier tournament in the state.

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Staff members from Trex Enterprises, Pacific Defense Solutions, Air Force Research Lab, Oceanit, University of Hawaii CTAHR, Akimeka, King Kekaulike School, Baldwin High School, Kula Elementary, Seabury, and Sae Design served as event judges.

Maui High School gym is packed for the robotics tournament. Photo courtesy of Don Couch.

“WIT is excited to provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources like this to Maui County students, and hopefully motivate their members to explore STEM careers.  The global demand for a skilled STEM workforce will only increase in the coming years,” said WIT Project Manager Mapu Quitazol, in a written statement.

Hawaii FLL is the local chapter of FIRST LEGO League (FLL) — an organization that introduces young people, ages 9 to 14, to the fun and excitement of science and technology while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.  Its popular robotics program challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers.

Alongside adult mentors, FLL teams solve problems using engineering concepts, presentation techniques and robots. FLL has expanded its reach from 2,000 children in 1998 to over 25,000 children across the United States.

First Lego League Food Factors Competition. Photo by Don Couch.

Women in Technology is a demonstration project of the Maui Economic Development Board and funded in part by the US Departments of Agriculture, Education and Labor as a workforce initiative.

Hawaii FLL hosts the annual Hawaii regional FLL robotics tournament and provides support to local teams during the challenge season.

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