Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
ROBOTICS teams engage in community service projects in addition to competing in events. May Street‘s state-bound Nuclear Recyclers team is reaching out to local pizza purveyors to educate people about recycling all or parts of pizza boxes – with the understanding that no grease-stained packaging should ever be put in recycling bins because the food contaminates the load and complicates the sorting and processing of recycled materials. Nuclear Recyclers, left, are Lucas Elliott, Bodei Bartel, Ben Marston, Angus Kellems, Sadie Smith, Lelu Branch, and Zoe Todorov, prepare to eat pizza with Solstice Woodfire Pizza owner Aaron Baumhackl. “With a little community education, we can make a mark in recycling history,” the students told Baumbackl. He brainstormed with the kids and indicated his willingness to participate in box labeling efforts and other ways to either package his pizza or to help educate his clients on recycling the parts of a pizza box that are free of grease or food particles. “Pizza boxes are our nemesis,” Baumhackl said. “We know our clients are interested in sustainable practices. We’re definitely interested in seeing what you have to offer.” The students have also met with Double Mountain Brewery about pizza box labeling and other outreach. In addition, they talked with Hood River Garbage Service, who told the students they would assist with efforts to raise awareness.
Over 300 kids aged nine to 14 from schools all around the Gorge showed off their robotic talents the last two weekends as part of the international robotics competition known as First Lego League (FLL). Fifty-three student teams worked over the past several months to compete in one of the Columbia Gorge Qualifying Tournaments held Dec. 5 at The Dalles Middle School and Dec. 12 and 13 at Wy’east Middle School, according to a press release.
At the Gorge FLL tournaments, teams demonstrated their robot’s capabilities on the competition table, were interviewed by a robot design panel, presented their Trash Trek research project and were assessed on teamwork skills in the FLL Core Values judging panel. The teams impressed the judges, referees and tournament volunteers with their knowledge and teamwork. Each single-day tournament generates its own separate award winners and several teams that will advance to the state tournaments. After a full day of competition, the overall top teams were chosen to advance to the Oregon State Tournaments on Jan. 9 or 10 in Hillsboro.
The 14 teams from the Gorge heading to Hillsboro include:
Overall champions: League of LEGOs from Horizon Christian School, Banana Bot Builders from Fisher’s Landing neighborhood (Vancouver), Hood River Brick Bots — a Hood River neighborhood team.
Overall second place: Pandroids from Wy’east Middle School, The Gears from Henkle Middle School, Nuclear Recyclers from May Street Elementary.
Additional top teams that advanced to the state tournament: Iha Ike from Trout Lake School, Fusion X and System Overload from Wasco County 4H, Eco Ninjas from Goldendale Middle School, Bottle Busters and Trash Busters from Klickitat Schools, W.I.T. Don’t Panic from May Street Elementary, Techno Salmon — a Hood River neighborhood team.
The Gorge FLL award winners from all three tournaments include:
Rising Star award: Westside Bigfoot Inc. from Westside Elementary, Fluffy Pink Unicorns from Mid Valley Elementary.
Core Values award: Ike Iha from Trout Lake School, Trash Talkers from Westside Elementary, W.I.T Don’t Panic from May Street Elementary.
Project award: Iha Ike from Trout Lake School, Couch Potatoes from Henkle Middle School, May Street Robo-Dragons from May Street Elementary.
Robot Design award: Fusion X from Wasco County 4H/The Dalles Middle School, Jawas from Henkle Middle School, Bell-BOTt-oms from May Street Elementary.
Robot Performance award: Pandroids from Wy’east Middle School, Eco Ninjas from Goldendale Middle School, Nuclear Recyclers from May Street Elementary.
Robotics events are held locally by the Gorge Technology Alliance (GTA) with support from Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, North Wasco County School District 21, Hood River County School District, Hood River County Education Foundation and White Salmon Valley Education Foundation. Local event sponsors include Google, Cardinal Glass, Hood Technology, Boeing, Insitu, John Gerstenberger, Prigel Machine & Fabrication, Innovative Composite Engineering, Coco Yackley, Electronic Assemblers, Inc., ROY-G-BIV, Oregon Tech, Zepher, Stanley Heinemann, Matt Wheeler, Eric Strid, and Kinetics, Inc.
Google also provides significant funding to support the Columbia Gorge robotics teams through Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program.