Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 15, 2013

Flood drive

Emmet Belknap Robot Rockers prepare for Lego robotics; tackle flooding preparedness

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A group of Emmet Belknap Intermediate kids want people to be prepared for natural disasters, such as the massive flood Lockport suffered back in June. 

Being prepared for nature’s fury is the theme for this year’s edition of the FIRST Lego League. And Emmet’s Robot Rockers are getting ready for their first qualifier competition to be held Nov. 23 in Webster.

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 education. 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.

The problem the Rockers chose was how to prepare for a flood, a decision based on the fact most of the kids saw firsthand the June flood that caused an estimated $7.2 million in damage to the city, said Cherie Anterline, a teacher aide at Emmet who coaches the Rockers with technology teacher Michael Lieber.

This year was different, however, as the kids had a little more to do. They are putting together a skit that will solve this problem.

And they are building not one, not two, but three robots. The robots have a number of different “missions” they’ll have to carry out in two-and-a-half minute matches in order to score points.

In addition to the skit, the kids are putting together an “app” for a cell phone or computer. The app will help younger kids understand how to prepare for a flood, said Kyle Phelps, 11. The app tells kids how to put together an emergency preparedness kit, complete with extra batteries, a flashlight, plastic gloves, canned food, water, a can opener and a radio.

“It’ll help them understand better how to make a kit, what to use, what not to use, “ he said.

After speaking with some Lockport city officials, the Emmet kids heard how that day went back in June. They also learned what to do if caught in a flood, such as staying away from the flood water if possible.

“Stay put, don’t move around,” said Katie Miner, 11. “You don’t know how deep some of the water is... we also learned how to help people.”

The Robot Rockers are also putting together a booklet that will have information on how to prepare for a flood. They will also be talking to second graders on Monday at Roy B. Kelley Elementary on how to be prepared.

Katie Strobel, 11, put together a PowerPoint presentation to help with the team’s talk at Roy B. Kelley. She said back in June her street was flooded while one of her teachers lost everything.

So, Strobel said she wanted to help the Kelley kids understand how important it was to be prepared for a disaster. Her first year on the Rockers, it was playing with Legos and her brother that got her interested in taking part of the team.

“We grew up with Legos,” Strobel said.

If successful on Nov. 23, the Robot Rockers will move on to a regional competition next month at the University of Rochester.

This is the 10th year Emmet Belknap has had a Lego team, Anterline said. And it couldn’t happen without the support the team has received from the community and the district, she said.

Contact reporterJoe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.