New Emerson robotics team off to state

New Emerson School’s Team TEN will compete Saturday for a chance to head to the robotics national competiton of the FIRST LEGO League. Contributed photo.

Grand Junction’s first LEGO robotics team will compete Saturday in the FIRST LEGO League state championship at Colorado School of Mines.

Ten fourth- and fifth-graders on New Emerson School’s Team TEN, which stands for Tomorrow’s Engineers Now, finished in second place at a regional competition Nov. 10 in Glenwood Springs. The top three teams from that competition and others around Colorado will compete Saturday in Golden for a chance to compete in the FIRST LEGO League’s national competition April 24-27 in St. Louis. The top three teams in Colorado will qualify for that competition.

FIRST LEGO League is an international robotics program that encourages kids ages 9 to 14 to build robots using LEGO pieces. Students operate the robots at competitions and try to make them perform tasks and navigate an obstacle course in order to earn points. Teams also earn points by demonstrating teamwork and by conjuring a solution to a problem posed by the FIRST LEGO League and presenting the solution in a skit for judges. This year’s problem involves finding a solution for a senior citizens’ issue. Team TEN’s skit is about solving senior housing qualms with micro-homes.

Amy Carlton, one of Team TEN’s adult coaches/mentors, said the brand new team simply planned to have fun and learn from the regional qualifier in Glenwood Springs. Their second-place finish as a novice team was a pleasant surprise.

“We didn’t really know what to say when we won,” Carlton said. “It’s a big deal.”

Carlton said the group will find a way to make it to St. Louis if Team TEN gets one of the coveted top three spots among the 30 teams expected to compete this weekend. But, she said, winning isn’t everything. FIRST LEGO League encourages teams to work together and cheer others on rather than focusing on a win.

“It’s about core values. It’s what we learn along the way, not that we win that matters,” Carlton said.

The competition also encourages teams to dress up for the championship. Team TEN members sported fake mustaches in Glenwood and plan to wear duct tape ties and hair bows in Golden.


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