‘Shine bright like a Flashlight’

Franklin Townships’s FIRST LEGO team, Flashlights, travels to World Festival

Students practice a team-building game prior to splitting up to work on their projects. *Photos by Nicole Davis

Franklin Township’s FIRST LEGO Robotics team, Flashlights, was preparing to leave the state championship when they heard their team name called out. Announced as winners of the competition, the Flashlights qualified to go to the World Festival in St. Louis on April 28 and 29.

“I was in disbelief,” said coach, Clayton Moore. “My jacket was halfway on. They called our team. We were shocked. I thought we would do well, but not win the whole thing.”

The LEGO League is a robotics program for elementary and middle school students. Franklin Township’s team, based out of Thompson Crossing Elementary School, has participated in the program for three years, making it to the state championship each year. This is its first year to qualify for the World Festival, held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship for high school students. The team has 10 students in grades 4 to 6 with 20 mentors.

“We achieved this level so quickly because we practice two times a year, pretty much all season,” said Mary Nine, coach. “We have two eighth grade mentors and they’re a huge help. (Mr. Moore) is really good at the robotics piece. He guides them but lets them explore. I try to do that with the project piece as well.”

There are two sides to the LEGO team: robotics and a project. Students are judged on how the team gets along and demonstrates its core values. The games and problems change each year. This year’s project, students must solve a real-world problem connected with animals. The Flashlights chose to research how to save the dying bee population.

From left, Morgan Huber, Megan Gorrell, Abby Beatty and Grace Lewis.

“We came up with a thermocouple, a thin thermometer that can go into the hive at the entrance and the middle where the queen bee is,” said Grace Lewis, student. “Whenever the hive gets less active, the temperature drops.”

Student Abby Beatty continued, “There is a website you could give the app and it’ll send a notification if there’s a significant drop in temperature. It won’t tell you what the problem is, so it alerts the beehive keeper to check their hive, find the problem and get rid of it.”

Mrs. Nine said the team not only obtains tech experience, but learns confidence as well from the  problem solving and face-to-face interactions. The project team

Eighth grade mentor Nakhil Gloyeske, 8th grade, and Nolen Richardson, 6th grade.

met with beekeepers and engineers for their project. They then have to present to the community and FIRST judges. At the World Festival, they’ll be surrounded by teams across the globe.

“Just being there is exciting,” said student, Megan Gorrell.

The school will give the team a celebratory send off before they leave. The team, is still fundraising for travel expenses at gofundme.com/FTFlashlights. For more information, visit facebook.com/FTFlashlights.