On Feb. 1, Pine View’s Middle School Robotics team advanced to the First Lego League (FLL) regional competition. Robotics teams from the West Florida gathered at Middleton High School in Tampa to compete.
This year’s FLL challenge, dubbed Nature’s Fury, focused on natural disasters. The team had to construct a robot capable of completing “missions” that included gathering people into safe zones and traversing obstacles such as fallen trees.
The 28 competing teams were judged on their engineering ability, real-world problem-solving, and teamwork. While Pine View’s competing team, the Photonz, won best-engineered robot at the qualifying county competition, it was not among the top 8 teams to pass onto the state-level competition.
However, the team was proud of the progress in its first year of competition. “Our goal was to learn and grow as engineers and people,” eleventh-grader and team founder Ben Mann said. Using a unique robot design, large wheels, and a LEGO Mindstorms kit, the team cooperated to build the best robot that they could.
Sixth-graders Vinny Scuteri, Jack Gallahan, Christopher Patrick, and Ben Covert, as well as eighth-graders Kathleen Patrick, Emma Sanchez, Grace Jemison, and Hobie Bursum all participated in the regional competition.
“Our team worked really well with the others and had a lot of fun. They came up with really creative solutions to the robot and project challenges. For the rest of the year they will work on improving those skills,” team coach Amy Donner said.
Mann, along with Donner, his mother, founded the Middle School Robotics team this year with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in mind. With the help of teacher sponsor Neal Gleitz, the robotics team has established Pine View as a contender in the competitive robotics arena.
With the competition season over, the club will be focusing on Olympic-themed robot challenges to help improve its members’ skills.