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November 26, 2012

Robot warriors build winning teams

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — So far this year, Lockport city schools are making an impression on the FIRST Lego Robotics world.

Emmet Belknap Intermediate and North Park Junior High fared pretty well at a competition last weekend. Both schools will be sending a team to the next round, a regional qualifying competition Dec. 9 in the Finger Lakes.

FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” an organization that introduces students to professional engineers and mentors to promote science and technology as career possibilities. The FIRST Lego program is a middle school age

competition that gets kids into robotics by building a Lego robot and solving a real-life problem. This year the theme was Senior Solutions, meaning kids had to create a device that would help senior citizens with an everyday problem.

North Park has a seventh-grade team, the Loc Blocks, as well as an eighth-grade team, System Upgrade. Both teams took home trophies, while System Upgrade will move on to the Finger Lakes regional next month at the University of Rochester.

System Upgrade won the Champion’s Award, which is essentially for first place overall, as well as the Overall Robot Performance Award. The team tackled the issue of maintaining balance by developing a “gyro pack.” The specialized backpack helps struggling seniors stay upright and avoid falls with the use of a gyroscope.

The idea worked, the team said, because a lot of other teams went with walkers or canes for products that solve problems. Teams had to present their problem-solving products to judges.

“The presentation went well, they really liked the idea,” said Samantha Madden.

The Loc Blocks developed a watch that does it all. The watch comes with an LED flashlight, USB port, magnifying glass and alarm. The watch could also work as a locater for whomever was wearing it. The watch can help seniors who are dealing with Alzheimer’s, said Keirstan Farina.

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