For years, Cornerstone Preparatory Academy wanted to start a FIRST LEGO Robotics team but lacked a coach. This school year, Cornerstone parent Barbara Garner and teacher Sherry Stone teamed to lead a small group of students who formed the school’s first team.
No one knew what to expect from the team the first year. The FIRST LEGO League coaches’ manual warns that a team’s first year will be a learning/building year, so don’t expect to take home the gold. Thus, it was a huge victory for the team when it won the Core Values trophy at the regional competition. The team’s robot performed well, and the team’s overall score was high enough to move on to the Super Regionals competition Jan. 14 at Kennesaw Charter Science & Math Academy. It was a huge accomplishment for a young team.
Garner was led to start the LEGO Robotics club because her youngest son, Patrick, loves technology and robotics, and enjoyed participating on a robotics team at his former school.
“I helped coach Patrick’s robotics team last year and was so impressed by all that the FIRST LEGO League organization offers,” Garner said. “When I asked if Cornerstone had a robotics team, the answer was that they would love to start one but needed a coach. Mrs. [Pat] Burton, elementary principal, and Mrs. [Jeanne] Borders, head of school, have been so supportive. They asked what we needed and then set about making sure we had it. If you build it, they will come, and these kids (and parents) have been amazing!”
The Team: Every team needs a name. The 10 Cornerstone students chose StormBots. The fifth- and sixth-graders who make up the team are Madelyn Beatty, Jacob Freiler, Zan Mounce, Sarah Sanabia and Isaac Sanchez of Acworth; Sam Boland, David Baines and Patrick Garner of Kennesaw; Jonah Kalafut of Mableton, and Keaton McCollum of Canton.
Each robotics team builds challenge set pieces, designs and builds a robot, selects missions the team would like to accomplish, and programs the robot to do as many missions as it can fit in the allotted time.
Each team also was given a project to complete. The 2016-17 project challenge was Animal Allies. The StormBots chose a research project that would benefit animals and humans. After hours of research, the team voted to help honey bees battle the dreaded varroa mite, which is drastically decreasing the number of bees.
The Work Begins: With their honey bee project chosen, the StormBots had hours of research ahead. They learned how much people rely on the honey bee and about the many challenges honey bees face. While researching their project, students received an education in working with others.
“I really enjoyed working with different people and the teamwork,” said StormBots member Madelyn Beatty.
Keaton McCollum added, “It’s fun learning new skills, working together and how to add your ideas together.”
Team members say they have had fun using science, technology, engineering and math to solve problems.
“It was great to collaborate and awesome to win the big award!” said Sarah Sanabia. “Nine kids who had never been on a team before and we won!”
Each robotics session started in prayer, Garner said.
“A consistent prayer has been to help us work together as a team, to display godly character and give the glory to Him,” said Garner. “God is good, and we are seeing Him move in this group. He has blessed us so richly with students who have a broad range of talents in building, engineering, programming, peacemaking, scientific thinking, creative thinking, acting and more!”
By Jeanine Marlow