Posted: Dec 7, 2012 at 9:13 AM [Dec 7, 2012]
Two teams of middle-school students from Ann Arbor Christian School qualified to compete in last Saturday’s FIRST Lego League (FLL) state finals competition with their robotic performance and science inventions that bought ingenuity and skill to the “Senior Solutions” theme.
Students competed in three areas: robot performance, science project and team work. One Ann Arbor Christian School (AACS) team, the “Brick Warriors”, won first place in the Robot Performance Awards and took second place overall for the State Champions Award.
For Robot Performance, entrants must program a robot to perform several of fourteen jobs that a senior might need help with, such as reaching something on a tall shelf, turning off the stove, or climbing up a ramp or stairs. The Brick Warriors’ robot was the only one that attempted or completed all fourteen tasks. Their robot earned the top three scores in the competition and won first place at the state level.
The team also placed in the top five for the Science Project Innovation Award, where they were required to invent something to help seniors overcome everyday problems. Research showed them that every 18 seconds an elderly person winds up in the emergency room due to a fall, and that looking up is a main component of balance. So to help seniors with this problem they designed an actual device using a gyroscope and accelerometer to vibrate and remind the seniors to look up when walking. The device fits on a set of eyeglasses (or headband, hearing aid, etc.) worn by the senior. It detects forward motion and angle of head tilt to determine if a senior looks down while walking, and if they are, it vibrates, reminding the senior to look up and forward.
They demonstrated their working prototype to many professionals, including Dr. Raymond Yung, the Chief of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Michigan, who was so impressed with their idea that he shared it with a fall and mobility expert and vice president of research at the U of M. Both were amazed at the ingenuity of the team for such an original solution to the common problem of falls in the elderly. The students have received much feedback that their invention should be patented.
Finally, at the FLL State Competition, the team also placed in the top five for the Robot Design Award.
Students worked hard, meeting weekly since August with parent volunteers, and put in over 200 hours programming their robot and many more hours designing their prototype. This was only AACS’s second year in the competition, and for some of the students, their first time. Two of the team-members were from other schools in Ann Arbor.
They also made it to State last year, where they won a Judges award.
Ann Arbor Christian School’s second team, the Lego Lords, qualified for State by placing in the top seven at regionals. Their innovative science project was an automated trunk lift that raises groceries or other heavy objects up, eliminating the need for seniors, especially those with back problems, to have to bend over and lift.
These two teams from Ann Arbor Christian School were the only teams from Ann Arbor to qualify for the state championships.