A team of six second and third graders from Barstow Elementary School in Prince Frederick was the only junior team to attend the 2014 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Festival Expo in St. Louis, Mo. last month.
The event is a worldwide science and technology competition and exhibition for elementary and middle school students. It is organized by FIRST, a non-profit organization founded by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the portable insulin pump and the Segwey Human Transporter. Through FIRST, Kamen, envisioned “a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.” This year’s event was held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Over 600 teams from thirty-nine countries were invited to the four-day championship event that began on April 23, 2014. The Barstow Junior FIRST LEGO League (JrFLL) team was one of 13 teams representing Maryland from the four programs within FIRST: FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), FIRST LEGO League (FLL), and Junior FIRST LEGO League (JrFLL).
The Barstow team was the only JrFLL team from Maryland that was invited to participate, joining forty teams from the United States, Canada, and China. The Barstow JrFLL team, called the Barstow Bulldogs, received the invitation after participating at the JrFLL Expo hosted by College of Southern Maryland in December.
The team was comprised of Chyll Cortes, Ben Rachic, Andrew Seawell, Riley Strain, Nikki Tjiputra and Marcus Washington. They were coached by Barstow staff Kelli Short and Bonnie Davis.
Barstow’s hurricane ‘Disaster Blaster’ wins recognition
The JrFLL teams are given a theme each year and must complete a research project on the theme and create a LEGO model to illustrate their project, which must also include at least one moving part. This year’s theme was “Disaster Blaster,” and the Barstow team researched hurricanes. They talked to a local firefighter and searched the web for information about hurricanes. They also built a LEGO model showing a neighborhood devastated by a hurricane. A spinning hurricane powered by a LEGO motor was at the center of their model.
The team participated in various events at the World Festival Expo, including a judged presentation and a televised showcase for invited guests. The team was awarded the “Solid as a Rock” award at the closing ceremony. This award was given to the team that demonstrated an understanding and application of construction knowledge to design and create a sturdy and solid LEGO model.
Dominion Energy, National Defense Education Fund, and the Help Association provided financial sponsorship to assist the team with this two-day trip.