Glacier Creek team wins FLL regional

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A number of District students enjoyed success at the First Lego League Badgerland regional tournament at Madison College over the weekend.

Team Derplum Squidly beat out 16 teams for the overall title in its division on Sunday, Nov. 6. The team is comprised of seven Glacier Creek students. Thy are sixth-graders Nihar Ballamudi, Teddy Burkard, Ben Friedl, Ethan Lam, Dhruv Prakash and Oliver Wu and fifth-grader Ian Lam. The team is coached by Ravi Ballamudi.

The team was nominated in all the major award categories, including best robot design, best project and core values. Besides the overall championship, they won the robot performance award. They advanced to sectionals, which will be held Dec. 10 in Oshkosh.

Team Epsilon SaberBOTz finished second overall in its division on Saturday, Nov. 5. The team is comprised of nine Glacier Creek students. They are fifth-graders Clay Kreimeier, Corbin Slinde, and Eric Ma; seventh-grader Varun Gupta; and eighth-graders Arber Jonuzi, Calvin Slinde, Poojha Prabaharasundar, Samantha Burkard, and Sohail Shaik. The team's coach is Derren Slinde.

The team was one of four out of 15 competing to advance to sectionals next month in Oshkosh.  They were also awarded the Core Values Award and were nominated for other awards, Derren Slinde said.   

Team Mr. COD competed at Madison College on Nov. 6 and was one of six to advance to sectionals. Team members include West Middleto fourth-grader Ethan Sanders and Kromrey fifth-graders Patrick DeCabooter, Thaddeus Arrington, Blake Lindsey, Caleb Heneghan, Andrew Peterman, Geoffrey Nelson and Logan Burfield from Kromrey.  

They were nominated for the Robot Design and Champion's awards and won the Judges' Award, which is awarded to a team who the judges recognize for their overall performance. 

Team Animals won the Rising Star Awards although they didn't advance to sectionals. The team is composed of seven fourth-graders from Sunset Ridge and West Middleton: Finian Burkard, Jeremiah Kim, Nikhil Quintin, Oscar Jiang, Caden Friedle, Julianna Friedl, and Shreya Rames. They are coached by Karina Burkard.

Each year, teams are required to research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy and many others and are challenged to develop an innovative solution that has the potential to add significant value to the world. They must also design, build, and program a robot and compete on a table top playing field.

The project theme this year is 'Animal Allies'.  Teams are required to create a solution for the question, "How could we improve the way we interact with animals?" 

Ravi Ballamudi said his team created a tracking device for lost pets and shared the project with their classmates at Glacier Creek.

Team Animals research was on designing an automated pet home. They made prototypes of a cat door and pet feeder that can be controlled via bluetooth and a pet entertainment system that is motion-activated, has an MP3 player/speaker and a pet tickler toy.

Team Epsilon SaberBOTz chose the Eastern Bluebird as their animal and focused their research on the difficulty bluebirds face in finding a suitable habitat for nesting, particularly the challenge posed by the house wren in competing for the same nest box.

The team conducted a research study, under the guidance of Stan Temple, Professor Emeritus in Conservation at UW-Madison and Senior Fellow & Science Advisor at the Aldo Leopold Foundation. The students evaluated 100 bluebird nest boxes throughout the Village of Cross Plains to determine how well people are accommodating the needs of bluebirds.  There were five specific criteria the students used to assess the nest boxes and they presented the results of their research, as well as their solution, at the tournament.

The team's solution is a small plastic pressure-activated door that blocks the entry hole into the nest box. This device is fitted into existing bluebird nest boxes. The pressure-sensitive perch triggers the barrier door to drop and allow entry only when the weight of the bird is greater than 20 grams. The students discovered that because the weight of the average house wren is 10-12 grams, it cannot access the nest box. The weight of the average bluebird is 27-34 grams and will therefore release the barrier door thus allowing access to the nest box.

The team hopes their efforts will make it easier and less stressful for bluebirds to find suitable nesting boxes and thereby allowing their population to flourish, Derren Slinde said.

The team will be working with Temple to have their research study published in the peer-reviewed journal, The Passenger Pigeon. They will also create a working prototype using 3D printing.  Their project and research will be featured in the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology's The Badger Birder, as well as BRAW's Wisconsin Bluebird newsletter and an upcoming issue of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine.

More than 233,000 students from more than 80 countries are participating in First Lego League (FLL) this year.  FLL is a robotics program designed to get children excited about science and technology. Teams have to create a solution to problems faced by today's scientists. Teams must also build and program a robot to solve missions on an obstacle course. They will present their solution and compete in the robot matches at regional tournaments. Qualifying teams move on to sectional, state and global tournaments.

BadgerBOTS Robotics Corporation,  7615 Discovery Dr., Middleton, is a non-profit educational organization that participates with First Lego League. Visit the BadgerBOTS website to learn more.