McKell Elementary LEGO Robotics Team Makes it to State

Sherri Love

The Ashland Beacon


   Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is Intelligence having Fun.”

   McKell Elementary LEGO Robotics Team Agrees.

LEGO toy interlocking blocks have been manufactured since 1949, but they are still a favorite for youth and adults alike. The miniature building blocks are also making an impact in elementary and middle school education across the nation and right here in our area in Kentucky.

   The McKell Elementary LEGO Robotics team recently qualified for the FIRST LEGO League state competition to be held in February at Northern Kentucky University.

   McKell Elementary has two LEGO Robotics teams; the McKell “Bulldogs;”  Hailey Dillow, Josie Bates, Rachel Hall, and Ella Stone, and the McKell “Bulldoggies;”  Halie Darnell, Breahna Thacker, Britton Anderson and Ty Wampler.  “My favorite thing about being a part of the LEGO Robotics team is getting to know everyone on our team, we have a bond with each other after working on these projects together,” says Dillow.  “It’s challenging and stressful at times, but we learned to work together as a team, and it feels really good to accomplish what we set out to do,” says Bates.

   The teams are coached by the school librarian, Tiffany Boggs, and the music teacher, Andrea Daniels.  These education professionals volunteer their time to these teams because they love seeing the students participate in these activities that they genuinely enjoy doing.  “I've coached for the past two years, and it's great seeing them work together and think outside the box,” says Boggs.

   The FLL (FIRST LEGO League) is an international competition organized by FIRST (For Inspirational and Recognition of Science Technology) for elementary and middle school students (ages 9-14 in the United States and Canada, 9-16 elsewhere).  The program is designed to get students excited about science and technology.  The competition encourages student participation in activities that develop critical thinking, creativity and teamwork skills.

   Teams of up to 10 students compete in a yearly challenge with three primary parts: the Robot Game, which involves designing and programming LEGO Mindstorm robots to complete tasks, the Project, which this year's theme is “into space” and invites students to explore, challenge, and innovate in vast expanse of space, and the use of the FIRST LEGO League core values. Core values include discovery, where they explore new skills and ideas; innovation by using creativity and persistence to solve problems, and impact, applying what we learn to improve our world. It also involves inclusion - respecting each other and embrace our differences, and teamwork, making us stronger when we work together.  Winners are selected based on their scores in the robot performance, robot design, project, and the core values aspects of the competition.   

   At the recent regional tournament, the McKell “Bulldoggies” team placed first in the Robot Game, second in Robot design and third overall.  The McKell Middle School “Lego My Eggo” Team placed first in Robot design.  Twenty-two elementary and middle school teams participated in the regional event held at ACTC, but the only teams from our Region to advance to the state competition are McKell Elementary and Argillite Elementary’s “Rockin Raptors” which placed fourth overall.

   The Kentucky FLL Championship tournament is sponsored by Northern Kentucky University and Duke Energy and will be held Saturday, Feb. 2, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. in Regents Hall at NKU.  The event is free and open to the public.  Opening Ceremonies will kick off the event followed by robot games, robotic demonstrations and then award ceremonies.  The top Champion teams will advance to the FIRST World Championship in Detroit.

   Good luck to these teams as they represent our region on the first weekend in February.