|The Moyer Rocket Penguins Robotics Team celebrates tournament honors with coaches Joey Hood and Beth Lutz.|
By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor
The Moyer Rocket Penguins and their robot Moby took the 2019 Rising Star award at the recent Kentucky First Lego® League Championship Tournament held at Northern Kentucky University in early February.
The students, fourth and fifth graders, presented their work and shared a video of the tournament at the February Fort Thomas Independent Schools board meeting. The Rocket Penguins were one of four Fort Thomas teams that qualified to compete in the event. Team members included Robby, Cole, Emma, team captain Sophie and star member Moby the robot.
Coaches Beth Lutz and Joey Hood introduced the team and talked about the League and what the team had to do to compete in the tournament.
"It’s really a stepping block towards a career in engineering. I’m a parent, and I feel really fortunate to have this program available to us. The kids really enjoyed it," said Hood.
Taking Moby into orbitHe explained this year’s tournament challenge was "Into Orbit." The team was required to identify a problem and present a solution using the theme as backdrop. The team chose boredom in space as their problem and set about ways to combat the problem for the robot they created named Moby.
"They quickly got into it and understood all the aspects of it from dopamine to habituation, deprivation, variety, choice, the whole thing. Our astronaut Moby loves this thing called a Snicker Pickle. He got bored with the Snicker Pickle and wanted to come up with something more fun. He came up with a bacon wrapped Snicker Pickle."
Lutz explained that during the competition, the students must take their robot through a variety of tasks as he "solves" his problem of getting to his pickle treat.
The students faced three judging sessions in the morning of the event, she explained. In the first, they presented their problem and solution. In the second they demonstrated their core values: discovery, innovation, impact, fun, teamwork and inclusion. Students talked through how they programmed their robot in the third judging session.
Solving problems with precision and speed
In the afternoon the team took their robot to the big game floor where they had a quick practice session and then had three rounds to put their robot through a series of tasks in a set time frame. The tasks included things the robot might do in space such as move cargo, lift things, dock.
"It was a pretty high pressured situation," said Lutz. "It required good time management, good team work, planning and a lot of precision. The team needed the ability to slow down and be really careful and precise but also move quickly, which is an important skill for a fourth or fifth grader to learn."
Superintendent Karen Cheser congratulated the students, adding "Only the top 48 [teams] make it to the state competition so to be one of four winners at the competition is quite an accomplishment. There are 32,000 First Lego® League teams internationally. We have 36 in Fort Thomas...We hope these students will go all the way up to the 12th grade."
She noted that Fort Thomas is one of the few districts in the region that participates through all grades up to grade 12.