The Govans Elementary School Robotics Team won top honors in the FIRST LEGO League regional competition on January 26, taking both First Place in Robot Performance and the Champions Award – the highest award at the competition, recognizing the team’s commitment to core values, excellence, and innovation. The team of 10 students defeated teams from 14 other city schools, earning its way into the state competition on February 23.
“I am so proud of our kids, I could pop,” said Sandi McFadden, Strong City’s Community School Site Coordinator for the Govans school.
Last fall, 10 students from the Govans afterschool program were selected to be on the FIRST LEGO League team, based on their love of STEM and robotics. They practiced weekly to prepare for the regional competition, even giving up their half-days to stay at school and work. The students designed, built and programmed a robot, researched the challenges astronauts face in space, interviewed an engineer, shared their research with local medical professionals, and learned how to work together as a team and improve their communication skills.
On February 23, the Govans “Dragon Designers” joined 80 teams of students ages 9-14 from all over Maryland in the state competition at UMBC. The teams faced this year’s challenge theme of “Into Orbit” head-on: designing, building, and programming a robot to complete a series of tasks during the Robot Game. They identified a physical or social problem faced by humans during long duration space exploration and proposed an innovative solution. The Govans team created “Medic 2.0,” a pharmaceutical machine, to compound and dispense medications aboard space ships.
Although the Govans team didn’t bring home a trophy from UMBC, it was a fun and amazing experience for young engineers Aniyah, Kaylin, Talia, Khamryn, Journey, Amir, Jaden, Serigne, James and Antwain.
“On the days leading up to the State Championship, you could feel the tension and nerves in each of the Govans team members, but by the morning of the competition all that faded,” said Devon Ritchie, Program Director for LET’S GO Boys and Girls, a nonprofit that developed the Govans Robotics team and also provides STEM curriculum, teacher training, and ongoing support for the afterschool program. “They were enjoying their robotic practice time, meeting students from other teams and celebrating each of the day’s accomplishments with grace. There was a new and deeper level of confidence in each team member by the end of this day.”
The Govans Elementary afterschool program is an initiative of the Baltimore Curriculum Project’s 21st Century Community Learning Center at Govans Elementary.