Seven local students from three elementary schools and their two volunteer coaches have been working hard since August, conducting scientific research for a unique after-school program called FIRST LEGO League (FLL), locally administered by Brandywine Robotics, a nonprofit in Chester Springs.
To date, this team has won awards at four local competitions and most recently placed second in the southeastern Pennsylvania regional championship. The achievement has earned the team an invitation to the FLL World Festival in St. Louis from April 26-29.
Team members are Amanda Mengle from Lionville Elementary, Brighton Risch, Aditi Purohit, and Aditya Bhosale from K.D. Markley Elementary, and Lasaya Tirumamidi, Simran Sahoo, and Ananya Singhal from Exton Elementary.
The team is coached by Malvern resident Michael Risch and Scott Mengle of Exton. Additional mentoring is provided by Exton resident Scott Featherman.
Each year in August, FIRST LEGO League introduces a scientific and real-world challenge for teams to focus on and research. The robotics part of the competition involves designing and programming LEGO Mindstorms robots to complete tasks.
The students work out solutions to the various problems they are given, and then meet for regional tournaments to share their knowledge, compare ideas, and display their robots.
For the 2016-17 season, the theme is “Animal Allies,” and it encourages students to think about ways to improve the interactions between people and animals.
This team decided to come up with a solution to help birds affected by oil spills. The young scientists’ research revealed that it can take up to 45 minutes, up to 300 gallons of water and 12 bottles of dish detergent to clean just one bird. The team figured out that that using absorbents to help get the majority of the oil off of the bird before cleaning with soap and water is quicker, uses less labor, and is significantly less expensive than cleaning the traditional way.
The team named itself, “Bird SPA,” with the double meaning of cleaning the birds in a spa-like atmosphere and that SPA is an acronym for its favorite absorbent, sodium polyacrylite.
The team also designed, constructed, and perfected a robot made from LEGO Mindstorms that navigates a playing field and performs tasks autonomously as programmed by the team.
Bird SPA is looking for corporate sponsors to help defray the cost of attending the World Festival. If interested, please look for “Team 17821” on all major social media platforms, or click here. Contributions are tax-deductible.