McClintock Mindstorms Madness
On Feb. 5 the McClintock Mindstorms Madness (M³) team took part in the state championship round of the First Lego League (FLL), held at NC A&T University in Greensboro. FLL is a worldwide competition for children in fifth through eighth grades, designed to involve the children in the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

The FLL competition judges the teams in four separate areas.  A large part of the preparation for competition involves a team research project and the team must make a presentation on this to a group of adult judges. The M³ team worked on a proposal for a robotic seeing-eye dog to help the visually-impaired.   

Each team must then explain how and why they built and programmed their robot. The detailed design and operation of a team’s robot is decided entirely by the students.  Then each team is given an unseen problem to solve while being observed by judges. 

Finally, each team gets to demonstrate their robot’s ability to perform the tasks set out on the game table. About a dozen tasks are available, each with a points score for completion.   Each team is allowed three sessions of two and a half minutes each at the table to score as many points as possible, with the best session score counting towards the final placement.

At the state competition, a total of 59 teams from all across North Carolina competed. These had been whittled down from an initial 600 North Carolina teams through regional competitions.

The team members of M³ are:  Andre Vanderveer, Tin Phan, Lac Phan, Will Steitz, Remington Foster, Ryan Dior, Caleb Mingo, Spencer Rhodes, Brandon Carlson, CJ Rucker, and Jose Delgado. The team coach is Mr. David C. Taylor, eighth-grade science teacher at McClintock.  This is the second year of FLL competition for M³, and the second time they have reached the state championship.

On Feb. 5, the M³ team performed very well.  Out of 59 teams, they came in first place for their research project presentation. They were awarded a handsome lego trophy. In addition, they placed in the top ten teams in the robot table competition.