Puckett’s Mill Elementary School’s robotics team, called the Sparrow-bots, is headed to the FIRST LEGO League World Championship in Houston, Texas, in April. The team of 4th and 5th grade students earned the bid after a top finish at the Georgia FIRST LEGO League Tournament which was held on February 4 at Georgia Gwinnett College. GCPS schools were well represented at the competition with teams from Twin Rivers Middle School, Walnut Grove Elementary School, Cooper Elementary School, Lilburn Elementary School, and Puckett’s Mill Elementary School participating. At the state competition, students are recognized in the areas of Core Values (teamwork), Research and Innovation, and Robotics Design. Overall Champions are recognized for their perfect scores in all of those areas in addition to their programming skills.
Puckett’s Mill’s Sparrow-bots were named the overall Grand Champion of the competition. This team has dedicated hundreds of hours to bringing awareness to the three-toed pygmy sloth, a nearly extinct species of sloth discovered in 2001, which lives off the coast of Panama. Disease scientists have discovered that algae embedded in this sloth's fur holds the cure to many parasitic diseases and are hopeful that the algae may also combat the breast cancer cell McF-7. Two other Gwinnett elementary schools garnered recognition at the event— Walnut Grove Elementary earned a trophy for its team’s research on horse-drawn carriages and Cooper Elementary (a first-year team) was recognized for their teamwork.
FIRST LEGO League competitions involve teams of children, ages 9 to 14, who design their own solution to current scientific problems, then build LEGO® robots that perform autonomous ‘missions.’ FLL Robotics participation in the state of Georgia is so great, that the state actually holds two state competitions. Traditionally, each year one of those state competitions is allowed to send a representative or bid to one of the World Competitions (there are actually two World Competitions, one in St. Louis and a new venue in Houston to make space for all the countries and states to have representation). This year, because of the number of teams participating in Georgia’s events our state actually won two bids to the World Competition allowing two teams (the HIPPIES from Milton, Ga, and the Sparrow-bots from Puckett’s Mill) to attend this international competition based on their merit of being overall Champions in their state.
At the World Championship held in Houston, Texas, the students from Puckett’s Mill will team up with another country, making this truly an international event and experience for the students. It is much like the Robotics Olympics where students from around the world share research, ideas, and a passion for robotic engineering. To reach this level of competition, students must earn first place rankings at a regional event, a super regional event (involving many counties), and then at a state competition.
To learn more about the Sparrow-bots, please visit their website at http://sparrowbots.weebly.com/.