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It's a Three-peat for West Virginia Roboteers

Mon Dec 17 2007

An image of Robotics Tournament TeamGood things apparently come in threes as the Roboteers of Morgantown won the annual West Virginia FIRST LEGO League robotics tournament for the third year in a row.

The tournament, which was funded through a grant from the West Virginia NASA Space Grant Consortium, was held Dec. 15 at the Center for Educational Technologies®. Nearly 200 youngsters ages 9-14 took part in the competition. Dr. Meri Cummings, science resource teacher at the center, served as tournament director for the third year in a row.

The Roboteers' state championship earned them an invitation to April's FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Atlanta. The Roboteers are coached by Earl Scime, a physics professor at West Virginia University. Team members are Luke Scime, Adam Raese, Haley Tucker, Isaac Bender, Iain MacKay, Jeremy Hunter, Amelia Bieniek, Daniel Pan, Shannon Ballard, and Tim Balvers.

The theme of this year's competition was Power Puzzle: Energy Resources—Meeting the Global Demand. Student teams programmed their LEGO robots to perform a variety of energy-related missions, from moving a solar panel to the roof of a house to erecting wind turbines and delivering uranium to a power plant. In addition, students delivered research and technical presentations to judges, and the students were observed for teamwork and problem-solving skills as they performed a "mystery" hands-on activity.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was created to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST LEGO League started in 1988 with a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Company. More than 48,000 children participate in the program.

Here are the winners of the other categories:

Project Presentation: 1. General Robotics, Vienna. 2. Gizmo Guys, Morgantown.

Robot Design: 1. J-Ro, Parkersburg. 2. Barboursville RoboPirates, Barboursville.

Teamwork: 1. Alchemists from Milton Middle School, Milton. 2. Organized Chaos, Wheeling.

Robot Performance at Table: 1. Barboursville RoboPirates, Barboursville. 2. Roboteers, Morgantown.

Coach/Mentor Award: Robo Raiders and their two teen-age mentors, Wheeling.

FIRST LEGO League Values Award: Robo Geek Squad, Huntington.

Against All Odds Award: Gizmo Girls, Wheeling

Team Spirit Award: Kermit Frogs, Kermit.

American Electric Power and LEGO Education also helped fund the event.

A number of volunteers from the university community joined Cummings in making the tournament a success for the 18 teams from throughout the Mountain State, including Mary Ellen Cassidy, Jim Coffield, Meri Cummings, Helen Faso, Kathleen Frank, Meg Geroch, Dave Henderson, Chris Kreger, Lisa McFarland, Doug Moore, Sharon Morgan, Jane Neuenschwander, Debbie Reese, Laurie Ruberg, Chris Scott, Don Watson, Chuck Wood, Janis Worklan, and Letha Zook

Plenty of other volunteers helped in the tournament's success:
  • Head referee: David Brooks, Kraton Corporation
  • Keynote speaker: Robin Shoop, Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Center
  • Head judge: Karen Burnett-Kurie, FIRST LEGO League Headquarters
  • FIRST Regional Director: Nicole Goldsmith
  • West Virginia University Students: Dan Brooks and Jimmy Smith
  • Carnegie Mellon University-National Robotics Engineering Center: Tim Freiz and Norm Kerman.
  • Community Volunteers: Bob and Hannah Boord, Jay Capron, Trish Hamm, and Linda Vidoni
  • Community Youth Volunteers: Tyler Cooey, Daniel Elerick, Zack Hamm, Madison and Nathan Keenan, Alex McKenzie, Kathleen Ott, Elizabeth Phillips, Caitlin Reasbeck, Billy Salvatori, and Robert Wilson.
  • WJU Student Volunteers: Sarah Connors, Niccole Downing, Elizabeth and Stephanie Elias, Caroline Horacek, Mary Beth Lewton, and Marissa Smith.
Also important were WJU housekeeping, maintenance, and security departments and Parkhurst Dining Services, for the many services provided before, during, and after the tournament.

A special thanks to the RoboRats FRC Team 1249 and FTC Team 55 and Career Center Critters for demonstrating their robots and sharing their table and models. Your contributions were a major reason for our success!