Fifteen TASIS Middle School students competed in the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Tournament at Centro Professionale Tecnico in Lugano on January 11. The young engineers followed up a strong performance at last year’s regional tournament in Bellinzona with another outstanding effort that included a fourth-place finish (the top two finishers were high school teams) for one of the three TASIS teams, Pioneers, and the coveted Teamwork Award for a second team, The Engineers. The full results from the Lugano tournament can be found here.
The theme for this year’s tournament was sustainable building/city planning. Teams had to come up with a solution to a problem in their school, develop a presentation about it, and then use the hardware-software platform LEGO MINDSTORMS® to design, build, and program a robot to compete with on a table-top playing field.
More than 310,000 students worldwide have now participated in the FIRST LEGO League, with 38,800 teams in 100 countries dedicating themselves to researching real-world problems such as food safety, recycling, and energy and striving to develop creative solutions through imaginative thinking and teamwork.
The TASIS teams are led by Middle School Science and Computer Science Teacher Amy Bloodworth and Middle School Math Teacher Claire Thomas, who co-founded the Middle School’s After-School Robotics Club in the fall of 2018. To learn more about their impressive efforts to expose TASIS students to as much coding, engineering, and invention as possible, refer to this article about last year’s tournament.
Study Robotics at TASIS this Summer
Dynamic robotics programs are also offered as part of the TASIS Summer Programs each year.
Students in the Château des Enfants program (ages 7–10) visit the state-of-the-art Campo Science Center once a week for an exciting introduction to the principals of robotics, and students in the Middle School Program (ages 11–13) can choose to focus on robotics through an afternoon clubs program. Sessions are designed to help students develop a passion for programming, problem-solving, engineering, and creativity.
Ms. Bloodworth was very pleased with the resiliency her students demonstrated at this year’s demanding competition, which carried on for nine grueling hours. “With robotics, a lot of things can go wrong on the day of the competition because there are so many variables,” she said. “A simple change in light conditions during the day is enough to play havoc with the line-following light sensors. Everything needs constant calibration and checking. This, however, is what makes the competition so exciting because it is not always the favorite team going into the competition that ends up the winner.”
The Engineers won the Teamwork Award!
The 2016 Khan-Page Master Teacher Award recipient also noted how wonderful it was that so many parents came to support their children at the tournament. “When the doors opened to the public in the afternoon, a bunch of Middle School parents poured in to cheer the kids on,” she said. “It really helped spur them to the finish line!”
Ms. Bloodworth also co-runs an Elementary School Robotics Club with Elementary School Instructional Technology Coordinator Tim Venchus, and those students participated in a FIRST LEGO League Jr. competition earlier this year. “We are trying to create a strong program to aim for world robotics competition domination,” laughed Ms. Bloodworth. “We need to start them young!”
The Engineers in action