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Students get in tune with nature during FLL event

January 23, 2014
By Eartha Terrell , The Town Crier

Aspiring engineers and scientist swarmed the Austintown Middle School gymnasium during the district's first FIRST Lego League competition Jan. 11.

FIRST, which stands for, For Information and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a program designed to inspire students to become excited about science and technology. The event also was in partnership with the AMS STEM, or Science Technology, Engineering and Math, program.

"We're in partnership with Project Lead The Way and Mahoning County Education Services Center," said STEM teacher Danielle Chine. "We're focusing on career readiness, education, technology skills and concepts of engineering and math to prepare students to solve real-world problems."

Article Photos

Town Crier photos by Eartha Terrell
FLL Maniac Machine team member Haley Woods shows off her team's invention during the FIRST Lego League competition at Austintown Middle School Jan. 11.

Ten teams from surrounding schools in northeast Ohio including two middle school teams competed during the event in the hope their robots would qualify for the upcoming state competition in Dayton. Middle school participants included Jackson Belknap, Anthony Delbene, Micheal Spear, Alex Giovannone, Jeremy Selby, Zachary Easton, Nathan Spalding, Isaac Robbins, David Varley III, Daniella Varley, Daniel Varley, Kyle Anderson, Alexis Clark, Walter Woods, Haley Woods and Bob Malizia.

This year's theme was Nature's Fury. Along with showcasing their Lego League robots, students were responsible for using technology to create remedies for potential disasters as well, and were judged based on their project presentation, robot design and core values.

"This year's theme is called Nature's Fury," said event coordinator Andy Yantes. "In August they were asked to come up with a national disaster, a location where that disaster would occur and an innovative solution to solve that natural disaster."

AMS team, The Mad Scientists, used colorful rubberbands and battery-powered lights to create the Brifelet, which is a bracelet that could be used to locate people with asthma or diabetes during a flood.

According to Team Coach, Mike Malizia, students gained hands-on experience practicing team work and cooperation.

"It's an all- encompassing activity for the kids," Malizia said. "They're not just learning to build robots, they're learning to do presentations and public speaking and teamwork. Throughout the halls you can hear teams wishing each other luck," he said.

The Fitch High School robotics team also attended the event and gave AMS students a look into their future of robotics at the high-school level. The team showcased two of their older robots and provided helpful insight and tips for their younger counterparts.

"They're learning some pretty high-level concepts that most people don't understand, whether they know it or not," said high school senior Michael Jadue. "This is a great experience to have in a time where technology is so prevalent," Jadue said.

While science and technology were at the forefront of the day-long event, some students took advantage of the time to also meet new people and have fun.

"It's a great experience. You meet people from all over the state and country and you really connect with your team more than you thought you ever could," said eighth-grader Robert Malizia.



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