Junior Tech Tigers - Pictured are members of The Junior Tech Tigers (Team #57480), from left: Coach Mindy Kostow, Emily Gruman, Maya Kostow, Cody Willenbring, Ryan Kostow and Coach Bill Gruman.
Recently, Grinnell was well-represented in two FIRST Lego League events.
Team #57480, the Junior Tech Tigers made up of fourth graders, participated in the Ottumwa FLL Qualifier with 12 teams on Saturday, Dec. 17, on the Indian Hills Community College Campus. The team mentors were Bill Gruman and Mindy Kostow.
Team #57063, the Muddy Buddies made up of sixth graders, participated in the Johnston Qualifier with 15 teams on Sunday, Dec. 18. The team mentors were Shannon Hinsa-Leasure and Janice DeRidder.
The events consisted of three competition rounds with a robot they designed, built, and programmed, where they attempted to complete a series of challenges to earn points. They also completed an Innovation Challenge, where they presented a solution related to energy supply. They shared the project, along with their robot design and coding experiences, with a panel of judges.
For their project, Team #57480 proposed installing small gravitational vortex water turbine systems near area waterways as a relatively inexpensive source of electricity. Team #57063 built an impressive $7 microbial fuel cell, fed by food waste, that also generates electricity. Both could provide alternatives to current energy sources.
Both teams earned awards at their respective events. Team 57480 earned the Core Values Award, which reflects the positive values emphasized in FIRST events, including ‘Gracious Professionalism’ and ‘Coopetition,’ which is a mashup of cooperation in competition. Team 57063 earned the Rising All-Star Award, given to a well-rounded rookie team that demonstrates impressive potential for the future. While neither team did advance to the state event, both consider their experiences resounding successes.
“I would like to extend a thank you to the adult volunteers, coaches, and parents who provided a lot of their personal time to mentor these youth in gaining more knowledge and skills in the area of STEM as these youth will become our future engineers and scientists,” noted Cathy Lents, executive director, Poweshiek County Extension Service.
“I was impressed by the positive atmosphere shown by all the youth participating in this event,” added Signey Hilby, program assistant, Poweshiek County Extension Service.
“I am so proud of how well our kids worked together in such a positive way,” said Bill Gruman, Junior Tech Tigers Team Mentor. “They were recognized several times for helping other teams at the event, even those much older.”
FIRST Lego League is open to all students in fourth through eighth grade. The teams operate as a special 4-H Robotics Club under the direction of Poweshiek County Extension. Teams did receive mentor support from Grinnell High School’s robotics team, as well, which will participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition in the spring.
Parent volunteers looking to begin or join teams for their youth for next season may contact Cathy Lents at the Poweshiek Extension Office by calling 641-623-5188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Muddy Buddies - Pictured are members of The Muddy Buddies (Team #57063), from left: Coach Janice DeRidder, Acadia Robinson, Elizabeth Crites, Megan DeRidder, Coach Shannon Hinsa-Leasure, Rosie Leasure and Anna Lindberg.