Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Washington Girl Scouts Build Robot, Compete

Washington's Columbia Basin Herald reports that this is the third year the RoboGirls team competed in the FIRST Lego League competition. The program is an international organization with a science-themed competition each year. This year's theme was Food Factor, and the girls were asked to research food from production to preparation.

The competitors were asked to investigate their food and find a way to improve its safe delivery, according to the league's website. The Moses Lake team, made up of members of the Girl Scout Troop 1238, started their project in September. A trip to National Frozen Foods gave the girls an idea for their project: trying to figure out ways to detect glass in food.

"We went to National and they showed the girls how they detect things in the corn. They have a machine to detect foreign objects, and they said the one thing they cannot detect is glass," Coach Carol Hohn said. "They told us at National Frozen Foods the primary cause of glass contamination was drink bottles ... so when they're going to harvest corn fields along roads people walk 10 to 15 feet in looking for glass."

The other part of the competition involved building a robot with Legos and programming it to perform certain tasks. The girls had a list of about 16 possible tasks they could accomplish with the robot. Hohn said the author of the challenge wanted to add tasks this year to make it more challenging for some of the more experienced teams.

The girls showed off what they learned at two competitions. They would go into a room with the judges, present their research project, present their robot and do an exercise on the core values of the program. They finished second in the regional competition in Tri-Cities against 19 other teams, and won the Inspiration trophy when they competed at the state competition earlier in the month. The Inspiration trophy is an award for the team which works together the best, Hohn said.