- Home >
Trine FIRST LEGO team advances
"Thunderstorm" takes home regional trophy
When looking for a solution to climate problems that affect everyone in Steuben County, sometimes it’s best to look to the kids in our community. The Thunderstorm, Trine University’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team of eight area elementary, middle, and home school students, suggested such a solution and brought home the hardware to confirm it. The team is sponsored by the Trine Design Engineering Technology Department.
The team’s creative presentation of winter road damage and a solution that employs permeable concrete paired with solar and nuclear-powered snow melting vehicles earned the team the Creative Solution trophy from the ETHOS (encouraging technology and hands-on science) regional qualifying FIRST LEGO League tournament hosted by Elkhart Memorial High School Saturday, Nov. 22.
Trine Thunderstorm team members pose after their presentation at the ETHOS tournament. From left, top row: Dalton Stanley, Lee Hiler. Middle row: Evan Trusty, Blake Trusty, Brock Tingley. Front row: Turner Von Ehrman, Grant Tingley, Erik Finley.
The Thunderstorm formed in early 2008 through the efforts of Trine design engineering technology professor Tom Trusty, with funding from the Lilly Endowment Initiative to Recruit and Retain Intellectual Capital Grant. “The goal of bringing FIRST LEGO to our community was not to win a competition. It was an opportunity to introduce young people to the exciting fields of engineering and technology using a toy they know and love— LEGO,” Trusty said.
Teams researched and presented five-minute skits on the topic “Climate Connections” this year. The 23 participating teams and hundreds of others at FIRST events around the country this month used LEGO equipment to create robots to complete various simulated tasks related to global climate problems. They could relocate a polar bear affected by global warming or open a floodgate, for example.
In addition, teams discussed with judges the technicalities involved in the design and programming of their robots. The Trine-sponsored team’s composite score earned them an invitation to the FLL Indiana championship tournament at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne Dec. 13.
“I can’t wait to do our presentation again, so more people can learn about our solution,” said Dalton Staley, a team member from Angola Middle School. “Both parts of the competition were fun, but the research and presentation on winter road damage made us learn things we can actually do to help with climate problems.”
If the Thunderstorm succeeds at the state level, they will have the opportunity to participate in the U.S. open championship at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio on May 9, 2009.
“Trine University is pleased to sponsor this innovative K-12 outreach effort. Participating youth have had great fun solving this year’s challenge, and the team has truly raised awareness of career opportunities for scientists and engineers in the community. We wish the Trine Thunderstorm team well as they move on to the state tournament,” said Dr. David Finley, Vice President for Academic Affairs.
FLL, created through a partnership between FIRST (for inspiration and recognition of science and technology) and The LEGO Group, inspires future scientists and engineers ages 9 to 14 to use a LEGO MINDSORMS NXT robotics platform and authentic scientific research to solve real-world engineering challenges facing today’s scientists. In its 10th year, FLL anticipates its biggest season ever, with 135,000 children in 40 countries competing in hundreds of qualifying events and championship tournaments.