As part of the competition, the middle-schoolers program their Lego robot to perform a series of missions on a tabletop arena.(Photo courtesy of Marj Dunn)This winter, a group of middle schoolers at West Homer Elementary are putting aside hockey sticks and skis in favor of a more unusual team sport: building robots.Listen nowThe group of 10 sixth graders calls themselves the “Brickheads.” They competed against more than 20 teams from across the state at the First Lego League Robotics State Qualifiers in December, winning an award for Best Overall Team. Now they’ve set their sights on an even bigger prize: the Alaska State Championship.The team has been building and programming their Lego robot since October.It’s about the size of a loaf of bread, with small wheels and movable arms. As part of the competition, the robot has less than three minutes to complete a series of missions on a tabletop arena.One of the missions involves collecting Lego “milk” from a cow. The students program the robot to push a lever and dispense the milk. Push the lever too far and the cow drops a load of Lego “manure” instead. The key is to teach the robot where exactly to move.“I had to use a color sensor which measures reflective light off a certain color and that’s how to make it follow that black line that circles the cow,” team-member Alexander Moore said.But programming is only one part of the competition. Judges also evaluate how well the team works together.Over the last few months, the Brickheads have had some tense moments. Team-member Cecilia Fitzpatrick said they had to come up with a creative way to communicate with each other.“It’s hard to talk when you’re talking over each other. We were getting a little irritated, so we invented a talking tiki,” Fitzpatrick said.The West Homer Elementary Brickheads pose with their “talking tiki.” (Photo courtesy of Marj Dunn)It’s a pretty simple system. The rule is whoever is holding the little wooden statue is the one who is allowed to talk.Brickheads coach Marj Dunn said the middle-schoolers are not only learning how to work as team, they’re also becoming more socially aware.“They’ve learned a lot about how to phrase things to sound more gracious and supportive,” Dunn said. “That’s not usually something kids at this age have mastered. There’s a lot of learning going on, but it’s not just the technical skills. It’s also the personal, social and emotional learning that is of utmost importance.”This is Dunn’s first year coaching the team. She said the students have taken complete ownership of the process.“They’re the ones reading the manual, they’re the ones figuring things out, they’re the ones making a plan for success,” Dunn said.The team is now feverishly preparing for the Alaska State Championship, which is scheduled for Jan. 14 at South Anchorage High School.
“I am going crazy, but I will charge forward like an elephant,” he wrote in the post.The Judicial Investigation Police declined to comment on the recent post. A Jairo Mora murder suspect with the last names Cash López posted photos of himself wearing a jacket and hat similar to one seized during raids earlier this month, the Spanish-language online dailycryoy.com reported Wednesday.According to crhoy.com two photos from June 7 and June 25 show Cash López in a camouflage jacket and a hat that investigators say he could have been wearing the night of the May 31 murder. The news site also found a photo of the suspect holding what appears to be an AK-47 in another photo.At 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday, when The Tico Times checked Cash López’s Facebook page, the photos had been deleted.Seven suspects are now in preventative detention awaiting trial. Cellphones and Internet access is forbidden in Costa Rican jails, but another suspect with the last names Salmón Meléndez posted on Facebook on Aug. 19 via a mobile device, weeks after his detention. The Judicial Investigation Police seized a jacket and hat similar to these during raids on July 30 that led to the arrest of eight suspects. Courtesy of CRhoy.com Facebook Comments Related posts:8 suspects arrested in Jairo Mora case, but motive remains unclear Why Jairo died Suspects in slaying of sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora will stand trial Court hears testimony from key witnesses in the Jairo Mora murder trial