On Saturday seven of Mackinac's finest, also known as the Lake-n-ators, participated in the UP's only First Lego League Qualifying Tournament. This year's theme was Animal Allies.
Everything the kids did revolved round interactions between human and animals.
Mrs.B, the kid's coach (and also our high school math teacher,) has been coaching the island's 5th & 6th grade team for many years now. She's amazing by the way!
The group's first task was to work together as a team to build something to improve an interaction between humans and animals. They had a total of four minutes to organize, plan and build. It was really challenging.
Task two was to put on a skit for the judges. But not just any skit- it had to relate the groups research. Oh yes, did I mention that each team had to choose a problem that is occurring because of a human - animal interaction? Teams also had to come up with a solution to that problem and convey all their information in a five minute play; a play they wrote.
(The Lake-n-ators choose to research Michigan's little brown bat. Thousands of them use to flit around Mackinac at night devouring virtually all of our mosquitoes, but due to white nose syndrome the bat population on the Island has plummeted.)
After the kids finished preforming, each team member had to answer questions about the team's research. The island kids really shined here; they knew more about Michigan's little brown bat than most adults - including how to pronounce pseudogymnoascus destructans, the scientific name for white nose syndrome.
After their presentation, the Lake-n-ators had three practice runs with their Lego robot before the competition missions began.
They had a great time - especially beating the college team from Lake State, who did manage to bring their score up from negative infinity to negative Pi. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) team got together the night before to work on their missions and skit to provide a little "friendly competition." The kids really got a hoot about watching the score keepers get creative with the IEEE's scores. In addition to the IEEE team, the island kids competed against teams from Petoskey, Charlevoix, Sault Ste. Marie, Cedarville, Menominee, and West Branch, Michigan. (Petoskey and Charlevoix each brought two teams.)
While their mission scores weren't high enough to go on to the next level of competition, the team did win a trophy because they did such an outstanding job on their presentation. All those practices and hours of research paid off!
As the mom of two team members and the teacher of the entire team, I can't put into words just how incredibly proud I am of all of them. The seven of them came together as a team, put in long hours after school, and worked tirelessly on their missions and research. I hope that every time each one of them walks by the the trophy case at school, he or she stands up a little straighter and feels a sense of pride seeing that Lego trophy sitting on the shelf.