Twenty East Providence students at Martin Middle School will show off this weekend two robots they have built to improve the lives of the elderly.
The seventh- and eighth-graders are competing in the FIRST® LEGO® League "Senior Solutions" Qualifier Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Kickemuit Middle School in Warren and Sunday, Dec. 2, at Bay View Academy in East Providence.
Both teams are made up of 10 students. They are competing for a chance to advance to the FIRST LEGO League State Championship in January at Roger Williams University in Bristol.
The teams have spent October and November designing, building and programming robots to complete missions on a standardized pre-built game table, said Tom Hargreaves, a robotics teacher who is their adviser. The robots and the playing field are made entirely of LEGO elements.
The missions represent concepts from gerontology, such as making it easier to walk, lift, carry, and move objects. The teams will have 2-1/2 minutes to earn points as their robots complete the 12 missions on the playing field, said Hargreaves. More difficult missions earn a higher number of points.
FIRST LEGO League is a hands-on science, technology, engineering and math enrichment program that combines robotics with a research project that encourages scientific literacy. In morning judging sessions, each team will present a research project that highlights what they have learned about gerontology to a panel of volunteer experts from the community.
They also will be judged on how well they cooperate and work together as a team, said Hargreaves.
Among the projects the students have researched are an “E-machine” that can help seniors exercise and microscopic “nanobots” that, theoretically, can be placed in the ear canal to remove calcium deposits and improve hearing.
The FIRST LEGO League event is free and open to the public. It starts at 11 am each day.
The "Solution" robot team members are: Zachary Garcia, Nike Wright, Noah Corrente, George Panas, Christopher Concepcion, Justin Goncalo, Jarod Garcia and Lucas Del Savio.
The "Roberto" robot team members are: Justin Pruett, Chase Vandal, Neil Britton, Trey Kassed, Andrew Rogers, Cole Coffey, Zachary Garcia and Kyle Plouff.