Page 14


PAGE 14 | APRIL 2017


Welby Elementary wins awards as newcomer to First Lego League robotics By Julie Slama |


elby Elementary fifth-grader Cami Mounga had been part of her school’s coding club. So when teachers offered to start a First Lego League robotics team, she jumped at the opportunity. “I thought it would fun and a good learning experience,” said Cami, who became captain of Team Tech. “We became good friends as well as good teammates.” Instead of just offering one robotics team, the school had enough interest to offer two teams. Fifth-grader Caleb McDonald became captain of The Coders. “I like Legos, and it’s been pretty cool to make a program and robot,” he said. “Sometimes we had long practices, but it was better with pizza.” Little did they know their interest in these inaugural teams of Team Tech and The Coders would give them first- and second-place presentation awards, respectively, at the Feb. 4 regional qualifying tournament and bids to the northern state Feb. 11 championship. At state, Team Tech won the inspiration award presented to “a first-year team showing enthusiasm and spirit.” First Lego League isn’t just building a Lego robot and programming it to complete missions each worthy of points; the competitions allow students age 9 to age 14 to compete in core values and an innovative project and presentation, as well

as the robot design and performance. Through the competition, students apply real-world math and science concepts, research challenges, learn critical thinking, team-build and develop presentation skills while having fun competing in tournaments. This year about 32,000 teams competed worldwide, with more than 300 teams across Utah competing in the state qualifying tournaments and both a northern and southern state championship. Starting from scratch, Welby coaches Kristie Alexander, Ana Cerezo, Rani Li and Haley McCall sought advice from other coaches and teams and former state-winning coach Michelle Estrada. They took it upon themselves to learn about robot technology and get grants to buy the robot kit. “We have had more than 100 kids in our coding club, so there’s interest and that helped prepare them for the commitment of First Lego League,” McCall said. “But we started late. By the time we got the robot and started going, other teams already had been programming for months. Still, our students accomplished so much in a short time.” McCall said they did have experience in student research, papers and presentation. “As teachers, we have presentation experience, so we already had our students researching their topics for their presentations, and our teams watched and critiqued each other to help them improve,” she said. “Still, we were surprised when

The Coders compete at the state First Lego League robotics tournament in its inaugural season as a team. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

our students got awards in their first year.” Tying into the First Lego League theme of “Animal Allies,” Team Tech came up with a real world issue they could solve. The team members researched Cami’s idea of helping orangutans and learned that palm trees were being cut down to get palm oil, which was diminishing the food for the animals. continued on next page…

Profile for The City Journals

South Jordan Journal April 2017  

South Jordan Journal April 2017