XENIA — A group of Xenia students are a step away from competing for a state championship in Lego robotics.
Nine fourth and fifth graders from McKinley Elementary School are participating in the FIRST Lego League Tournament at Wright State’s student union this weekend, where 12 teams make it to Ohio’s premier event. They earned the right by finishing in the top four in a recent regional event hosted by McKinley.
Now three-years-old, it’s the first time the McKinley group — which has multiple new faces each year — has made it to the district.
“We’ve built on what we did the first couple years,” said Coach Tim Carey, a McKinley teacher. “(And) I actually started with them last year in the spring.”
Carey invited kids to his classroom as an opportunity to learn more about computer coding. That carried over when the FIRST Lego League season began.
“They had a stronger foundation starting out,” Carey said. “I think that was the big difference. I think we’re going to show well.”
Advancement is based on performance in robot design, research project, core values, and performance in the robot competition. The research project topic was hydrodynamics, and the team devised a way to help prevent the public water supply from leaking by placing a small flexible pipe inside the existing pipe.
Team members are looking forward to the competition despite potentially competing against kids as old as 14 or 15.
“I’m confident,” said fourth grader Abigail Hutchins. “We’ve added programs. I’m excited that we made it this far. I’m just happy that we are doing this (and) we just get to do this for longer.”
Fifth grader Jocelyn Bohn said the team has added two programs to the robot to make it faster.
“I think we have something to prove,” she said. “I knew that we would have to change our programs. It’s really cool that we’re the first (Xenia) team. I was very exited.”
Fifth grader Alisha Lindsay is the lone holder from last year’s team. She said last year was “really fun” and because there was a new topic, she wanted to return to the team. Her experience has been invaluable.
“You can learn from some things that happened last year, all the mistakes,” she said. “I feel that we’re going to do good. We’ve worked really hard. Just being in the finals shows how good we really are.”
Judging is Saturday, Jan. 6, while the robot competitions are Sunday, Jan. 7. Competitions are open to the public.
Other team members are fifth graders Malaki Gill and Chris Chandler, and fourth graders Trey Greene, Taylor Fuchs, Taylor Walker, and Zachary Tolle. Steve Tolle is the assistant coach.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.