Lego team builds winning reputation
The Maxwell Elementary Middle School students demonstrated their winning presentation and robot during a school board meeting Jan. 24. The Soaring Eagles reached great heights in December, placing first in a regional competition and second at the state level in the First Lego League competition. (Courtesy photo)
by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs
2/3/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Soaring Eagles reached great heights in December, placing first in a regional competition and second at the state level in the First Lego League competition. The Maxwell Elementary Middle School students demonstrated their winning presentation and robot during a school board meeting Jan. 24.
"Being able to go and compete is nerve-wracking, but it's really fun," said Breia Feck, a seventh-grader.
The First Lego League provides participating students with a theme - this year's was "food factor" - and the materials and layout for a robot demonstration.
For three months, each group develops and researches a topic in the theme, and prepares a presentation demonstrating their knowledge. At the competition, every team will complete the same robot tasks, earning points for each accomplishment.
"It was an exciting opportunity for team members to do real-world research toward the challenges facing today's scientists," said teacher and coach Rebecca Hill. "The team also developed essential 21st century skills in critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills."
The students' motto, "food on our tables must have labels," asked food regulatory commissions to put labels on food containing artificial dyes so consumers are aware of the danger.
"The MEMS team presented an informative skit on deliberate food contaminations with artificial food dyes," Hill said. "The judges were very impressed with the team's thoroughness of research."
The students learned that in the United States, food is still prepared with artificial dyes, which have been banned in Europe. In their presentation, they said artificial dyes have no nutritional value and may worsen the effects of certain health issues, such as attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder.
After showing the school board their skit and discussing their research, the students exhibited their robot, completing food-related tasks, such as dumping "food" on a table or spilling "bacteria."
The First Lego League is designed to teach students a variety of lessons, including teamwork. "You learn from the competition how to get along with everyone else," said Trevor McCaffrey, an eighth-grader.
The Soaring Eagles were thankful for their mentors from the Squadron Officer School, Maj. Dave Friedman, Capt. Melissa Guldan and Capt. Shari Gaines.
They felt they had a lot to share with the students, due to their engineering background and leadership development in the Air Force. And the chance to work with Legos was fun.
"I heard 'Legos' and 'engineering' and said, 'I'm sold,'" Guldan said.
"Part of being an officer is giving back to the community," Friedman said.
A winning combination
Congratulations to the Maxwell Elementary Middle School Soaring Eagles for placing first in their regional competition and second at the Alabama level.