Nearly 100 elementary and middle school robotics teams from the Northeast, bearing creative names such as Flaming Ninja Waffles and Duct Tape Dinosaurs, are poised to participate in the 12th Annual RoboNautica event at Harrington Auditorium at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on Saturday, Dec. 15.
This year's theme is "Senior Solutions," and the goal is to have students examine problems that affect senior citizens and may make it difficult for them to remain engaged and independent members of their community.
With eight competition table-pairs, the action at RoboNautica is fast-paced from the first match to the exciting elimination finals. For the competition, teams built robots out of LEGOs that are required to complete several tasks such as gathering specially labeled medicine bottles and planting a garden.
Glenn Mulno, a senior manager of technical support at Progress Software in Bedford, Mass., and a coach of Team Lightning of Needham, Mass., said students gain invaluable engineering skills through the competition. "From designing and building to troubleshooting and problem solving, students develop skills they need as they graduate into the workforce of tomorrow," said Mulno.
Mulno says his team will have a few "neat features" this year, such as using gears to retrieve the green medicine bottle and making unique attachments.
"The great thing about RoboNautica is that so many teams will have cool robot attachments and solutions," said Mulno. "I only wish there was more time to watch the other teams' missions."
Colleen Shaver, assistant director of the Robotics Resource Center at WPI and organizer of the event, said the robotics programs have numerous benefits.
"This event, and the FLL program as whole, are very important because they give these kids the opportunity to use their math, science, and problem-solving skills in the hands-on application of robotics," she said. "The yearly theme encourages kids to go out into their communities, learn about careers in the specific field, and solve real-world problems."
What: The RoboNautica state championship showcases the talents of hundreds of children ages 9-14, who will become tomorrow’s engineers and scientists. RoboNautica is the Massachusetts state tournament of FIRST LEGO League. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
84 students teams from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Jamaica
Saturday, Dec. 15, 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Harrington Auditorium, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, Mass.
Free and open to the public
For more information, visit here.