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Della Davidson robotics team advances to state

Della Davidson Elementary School students will advance to a state robotics tournament.

“The Flame Throwers,” along with robot Flamebot, will travel to Vicksburg on March 5 to compete in the FIRST LEGO League Mississippi State Championship Tournament against other middle-school students for a chance to attend the regional tournament.

Their robotics teacher, Sarah Rowlett, said the students are anticipating competing against older students.

“All challenges are real-world problems that the students research, find what already exists and then create a new innovative solution to the problem,” Rowlett said.

Previously, the Flame Throwers won Project Award for innovative solution, presentation and research as well as the Robot Mission Award for the highest number of mission points at the competition at the Regional Lafayette High School FIRST LEGO League Competition in December.

Rowlett said the contest consists of three parts: the Robot Game, the Project and the Core Values.

Teams of up to 10 students, with at least one adult coach, participate in the tournament by programming a robot to score points on a themed playing field, developing a solution to an annually themed problem they have identified while all guided by their FFL core values.

This year the theme was Trash Trek. The Flame Throwers began research about how to better use waste. They talked with city as well as out-of-state officials on how to best solve their problem.

“The students also have to identify experts within their community, contact them and interview them to find out facts and to share their new idea,” Rowlett said. The team decided burning the trash and repurposing the ashes was the best solution.

“We were just really into the fire thing,” team member Annie Shaw said.

In their presentation, the students pointed out that ashes from burned trash could be used to pave highways. Using repurposed ashes to make asphalt could save up to $100,000 per mile to pave a two-lane road.

Although it was not always easy designing, building and programming the robot, the students never gave up.

“We try it again and then if it doesn’t work a second time, we know maybe we made a programming mistake or we set it up incorrectly,” Shaw said.

Rowlett said the program was started in 2009. Each year, a different group of students are challenged with a different research project, robot mission and LEGO kit.

“The students are excited to compete,” Rowlett said.