Future engineers show off student-made robots and scientific innovations at state competition

By on January 31, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Robots, crickets, and Washington’s future engineers took over the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. this weekend.

Washington FIRST Robotics held two competitions on Saturday at the Western Washington State Championships on Saturday, as more than 1,000 students ranging from 6 to 18 years old battled with their respective robotic creations.

FIRST Lego League (FLL), a program that encourages students ages 9 to 14 to design and develop a Lego robot based on a real-world problem, hosted 30 of 120 Washington-based FLL teams on Saturday. To earn points, the teams competed against each other with autonomous robots in the “Robot Game” and showed off their Trash Trek project, which asked students to develop creative ways to collect, sort and reuse trash.

Entomophagy, or eating insects, was the Bearded Pineapple’s solution to the Trash Trek challenge. Crickets decompose quickly and are better for the environment than meat and bone scraps, and have the lowest “yuck-factor.”

The Bearded Pineapples say eating crickets isn’t so bad — in fact, they encourage it.

“It tastes like peanuts and chicken,” said Ashley, a 12-year-old member of the FLL team.

Ashley and Fritzi of the Bearded Pineapples, a FIRST Lego League team, show off their crickets. Eating insects, which decompose quickly and are better for the environment, was their solution to the Trash Trek challenge.
Ashley and Fritzi of the Bearded Pineapples, a FIRST Lego League team, show off their crickets. Eating insects, which decompose quickly and are better for the environment, was their solution to the Trash Trek challenge.

Washington FIRST Robotics, a non-profit organization with more than 11,000 actively involved students and 6,000 volunteers, mentors and coaches, also held its FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) this weekend, inviting 32 teams who competed for a spot in the Super-Regional Championship. FTC challenges seventh through twelfth graders to design, build, program and operate robots using a standard robotics kit that can successfully complete a game.

This year’s game was called RES-Q and was designed to imitate a mountain rescue. Each robot scored points by “resetting rescue beacons; delivering rescue climbers to a shelter; parking on the ‘mountain;’ and parking in the rescue beacon repair zone,” according to the FTC national website. Teams won extra points if their robot could pick up debris and place them in specific goals, or if it could hang from a pull-up bar at the top of the “mountain.”

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