AMS students have fun with Legos in an after-school sport where they build a robot to compete with other schools. The after-school program is under the First Lego League and is a way for kids to get involved in technology.
"We have about 30 kids involved in this after school extracurricular activity," said coach Jason Freudenberg.
The FLL team at AMS meets after school and designs, programs, and competes with their robot.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Team “Lego Tech” members David Varley and Robert Malizia program their robot to perform tasks. Their robot made it to the regional competition recently, but was one team away from making it to the state level.
"It is like a sport," Freudenberg said.
In competition, the robot is given two and a half minutes to complete various missions that have various difficulty levels. Prior to competition, team members program the robot, then during the competition they are not allowed to touch it. The robot must perform the task on its own, relying only on the programming. Among some of the tasks were to simply pick up and move objects.
"This is no different than engineers programming the Mars Rover," said coach Danielle Chine, who is the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math leader at AMS.
She said while the students on the AMS team may be tinkering with Lego robots today, in 20 years they could be building robots to help colonize Mars.
In their rookie year in the FLL, Austintown's team "Lego Tech" qualified for the regional competition at Warren G. Harding in December and actually tied Solon's team, which was a feat in itself.
"This Solon team wins repeatedly every year," Chine said. "So it was an incredible test for our first [competition] team."
From regionals, "Lego Tech" went on to district competition in Akron two weeks ago. Out of 31 teams, the AMS students placed ninth. Unfortunately, only the top eight teams go on to state.
"All I have to say is Solon, who has many teams and wins every year, better watch out for us next year," Chine said. "There are some new kids in town."
"Lego Tech" team members included AMS students Robert Malizia, Nathan Spalding, David Varley, and Walter Woods. Chine also credited parent involvement and thanked Jennifer Varley, Michael Malizia and Vicky Woods for their support of the team.