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Morgantown Team Wins Second Consecutive State Robotics Title

Tue Dec 22 2009

The Trinity Robo Warriors celebrate their West Virginia FIRST LEGO League state championship. From left, Amy Diznoff of the West Virginia NASA Space Grant Consortium, coach Colleen Bailes, Rebecca Broadman, Maggie Collins, Christian Hawkinberry, Josh Broadman, Julian Bailes, and assistant coach Marie Broadman. Team mentors Doug Feasline and Rocky Furlong are not pictured.
Check out more tournament pictures!

The Trinity Robo Warriors of Trinity Christian School in Morgantown battled the snow and 16 other teams Saturday to earn its second consecutive West Virginia FIRST Lego League state tournament title at Wheeling Jesuit University.

The winter storm that blanketed West Virginia Saturday prevented 10 of the 27 teams entered in the annual event from making it to Wheeling. The 27 teams had been the most ever scheduled to compete in the robotics tournament. Still, more than 100 youth ages 9-14 took part in the event, which was being held at the Center for Educational Technologies for the fifth consecutive year.

Sponsors of the tournament were the West Virginia NASA Space Grant Consortium, American Electric Power; Wheeling Jesuit University; Health Bridge Imaging of Belpre, Ohio; and LEGO Education.

Members of the winning Robo Warriors are Julian Bailes, Maggie Collins, Josh Broadman, Rebecca Broadman, and Christian Hawkinberry. The Robo Warriors are coached by Coleen Bailes. Doug Feasline and Rocky Furlong serve as mentors for the team. Perhaps more impressively, Bailes is the only member of the Robo Warriors who was on last year's championship squad. This also was Colleen Bailes' first year as coach and also the first year for her assistant, Broadman.

The Roboteers, who won state titles in 2006 and 2007 representing the Morgantown Learning Academy, finished in second place. They also earned second in the robot table performance competition. Members of the Roboteers are Amelia Bieniek, Dominique Hunter, Iain MacKay, Tristan Dennis, Marco Toro, and Mateo Biaforo. Daren Bieniek and Charles MacKay coach the Roboteers.

"The kids were all strongly engaged, even when throwing occasional snowballs," joked Chuck Wood, director of the Center for Educational Technologies and one of the judges at Saturday's competition. "I was impressed with how often a young teen woman was team leader. About 50 percent of the participants were female. Robotics seems to be a good way to attract females to science; we have to work on keeping their interest."

Smart Move was the theme of this year's competition. Student teams preprogrammed their LEGO robots to serve as sensor-equipped vehicles to perform various transportation-related tasks, among them maneuvering and parking in certain target areas, steering to retrieve objects, avoiding warning beacons and sensor walls, and helping crash test figures in the vehicles to survive impact.

For their research presentation students examined their community and how people, animals, information, and things travel there. They reported on obstacles to travel and the solutions they came up with. The winning research team, the PyroBots of Shenandoah Junction, proposed a "green" vehicle tire made of recyclable vegetable oil polyurethane.

Judges also observed and interviewed the students to determine how well they demonstrated the teamwork skills required for successful research and engineering projects.

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.

Meri Cummings, science resource teacher at the center, served as tournament director for her fifth year and was assisted by Sharon Morgan, on-site assistant director of the Challenger Learning Center located in the Center for Educational Technologies.

Here are the other winners:

Robot Design: 1. Mars Rovers, Mountaineer Area Robotics, Morgantown. 2. J-Ro, Jackson Middle School, Vienna.

Research Presentation: 1. PyroBots, Shenandoah Junction. 2. Midget Men, Martinsburg.

Teamwork: 1. Smarticle Robo Builders, Cheat Lake Middle School, Morgantown. 2. PRIDE (Preston Robotics Is Definitely Epic), Preston County Gifted (TAG), Kingwood.

Robot Performance at Table: 1. Mars Rovers, Mountaineer Area Robotics, Morgantown, with a score of 320 out of a possible 400. 2. Roboteers, Morgantown Learning Academy, Morgantown, with a score of 310 out of a possible 400.

Coach/Mentor Award: Rickey Meade, coach of the Career Center Critters representing Mingo Career and Technical Center in Delbarton. Meade was honored for his tireless efforts in bringing a van full of robotics tournament tables, mats and models to demonstrate for all participants in the tournament each year. Tournament director Cummings noted in her nomination that Meade often gives up time with his own team to help others at the tournament.

FIRST LEGO League Values Award for being ambassadors of "cooperatition": Geek Central, Cheat Lake Middle School, Morgantown. They are coached by Mark Tennant, David Hough, and Todd Hannah.

FIRST LEGO League Values Award for team spirit and quality research: Virtual Vikings, Cheat Lake Middle School, Morgantown. They are coached by Brian and Cathy Woerner.

Plenty of volunteers helped in the tournament's success:
  • Head referee: David Brooks, Kraton Corporation
  • Master scorekeeper: Jimmy Smith, West Virginia University
  • Referees: Norman Kerman, Tim Friez, Haley Tucker, and Ryan Utzman
  • Table setters: Dave Faulkner, Billy Salvatori, Caitlin Reasbeck, and Ashly Lambert
  • West Virginia NASA Space Grant Consortium: Amy Diznoff
  • Judges: From Wheeling Jesuit were Chuck Wood, Chris Ruckman, Laurie Ruberg, Debbie Piecka, Jane Neuenschwander, Christine Faulkner, Helen Faso, and Lisa McFarland. Representing other organizations were Gene Turchin, Todd Ensign, John Clark, Bob Boord, Chris Scott, Phillip Tucker, Aaron Ward, Neil Chakrabarty, Hannah Boord, Susan Godez, Amy Diznoff, Patricia DePra, Jan Madden, and John Madden.
  • FLL Special Agent: Luke Scime
  • LEGO Construction Zone: Linda Vidoni and Tammy Croghan
  • FRC/FTC Volunteers: Rickey Meade, Jenny Mounts, and Jordon Mounts
  • Setup Assistant: Earl Scime
  • Brick Setter: Janet Nolan of WJU
  • Volunteer: Kelly Reasbeck
  • Photographers: Ryan Longenette, Matt Petrole, Steven Nowak, Jasmine Shah, Brittany Boord, and Diego Gattesco

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 and Career Center Critters for demonstrating and sharing their robots, tables, and models. Your contributions were a major reason for our success!

Wheeling Jesuit University sponsored one robotics teams. The RoBoRaiders are coached by Dr. Peter Ehni, WJU physics professor, and team members are Jared Ehni, Robby Fish, Daniel Loh, and Hayden Fletcher.