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‘Robo-Crew’ at Mill Creek gets innovative to win awards

With much pride, the Robo-Crew garnered tourney awards to bring back to Mill Creek Elementary School.
Mill Creek's Robo-Crew members are, front from left, Seth Johnson, Cole Moore, Isabella Gramicionni, Isha Patel and Abigail Davies, back from left, Delaney Horton, Olivia Blanton, Sean Flynn and Fletcher Canup. (Contributed)

“We were proud to bring home second place in ‘Innovative Design’ for our research project idea” at the Alabama FIRST LEGO League State Championship,” Sharon Harris said. She sponsors the team and is Mill Creek’s gifted specialist.

Fifth- and sixth-graders compose Mill Creek’s Robo-Crew. Members are Seth Johnson, Cole Moore, Isabella Gramicionni, Isha Patel, Abigail Davies, Delaney Horton, Olivia Blanton, Sean Flynn and Fletcher Canup. Dona Lovelace, Fletcher Canup’s grandmother, served as senior mentor.

Their robot’s name, M.A.V. for Multi-Access Vehicle, also pays homage to Mill Creek mascot, the maverick.

“One of the components of the competition is to research and design an original solution to a real-world problem relating to the project theme,” Harris said. Grissom High School hosted the state meet.

The Robo-Crew used LEGO education NXT parts and programmed using LEGO’s Mindstorms software.

The theme for 2013 was Senior Solutions. Using that theme, Mill Creek students wrote a play, “Extreme Makeover — Nursing Home Edition.”

The team collaborated with employees at Q Track, a local high-tech company that had secured a grant from the National Institute on Aging for an indoor locator and fall detection device for use in nursing homes.

“Our research focused on a solution for a problem they are having at Q Track,” Harris said. “It was really cool to meet people who are doing in the real world what we’re doing in robotics.”

“The problem solving and teamwork they have to accomplish in this activity is very impressive,” Harris said. “This kind of problem-based learning has them working like (and with) practicing professionals and really prepares them for a future as leaders and innovators in the workforce.”

In qualifying rounds for Madison City Schools last November, Mill Creek won second place for “Core Values.”

Harris is the only robotics sponsor at Mill Creek. “But I have lots of wonderful help and support from parents,” she said.

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