4 Lego teams from Orleans test smarts at qualifier

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

CHURCHVILLE – They built Lego robots that threw a ball into a net, moved Lego people, and completed several other tasks in a 2 ½ minute round.

(In the top photo Brian Shaw of Kendall lines up the Lego robot for the MiRiFiCi team, which means “Awesomeness” in Latin.)

MiRiFiCi and three other teams from the Orleans County 4-H program competed in a qualifying event at the Churchville-Chili today, with one of the teams advancing to a regional completion on Dec. 7 at the University of Rochester.

Prehistoric Robots was the only team from Orleans to advance to the UR event. In today’s competition at the Churchville-Chili, 17 teams competed with six advancing to the UR. Will Gregoire from Prehistoric Robots also won a “Hero Award” for exhibiting outstanding sportsmanship.

Prehistoric Robots members in photo include from left: Elaina Reese of Medina, Anna Reese of Medina, Sharbell Simon of Lyndonville, Michael Reese of Medina and JohnPaul Simon of Lyndonville. They lined up the robot, pressed the desired program and put on the attachments.

Zachary Neal of Albion is a member of the KOWZ (Kids Only Work Zone). The team needed to research a project, present their findings to judges, and also design a robot and have it complete tasks on a board. Zachary’s family owns a dairy farm in Albion.

His hat has buttons from other teams in the FIRST Lego League. For its project, KOWZ researched and developed a keyboard that can make it easier for people to learn how to type.

The Red Folders team takes a turn in the robot challenge. Tsali Garland-Standing, with head down, is shown working on the robot. Garland-Standing is from Spencerport. Deegan Bragg, in glasses, is from Medina.

There are about 40 kids in the Orleans 4-H Legos program. Most are from Orleans County, but a few are from outside the county borders. The Red Folders won a “Hero Award” for sportsmanship and enthusiasm during the competition.

Mike Beach, one of the mentors for MiRiFiCi, gives the team a pep talk before they send their robot out to complete challenges. The team’s outfits mimic the character from the Monopoly game. Beach’s son, James Michael, is on the team.

Jacob Velesko of Middleport has a hat adorned with buttons from other FLL teams.He is a member of the Red Folders.

The Hippie Pandas, a team from a Girl Scout troop in Churchville, was today’s overall champion. The Hippie Pandas also designed the best robot. They advanced to the national event last year.

Marlene Seielstad of Albion won a “Special Recognition Award,” the only one given to a mentor today for her dedication to the program as a volunteer. She and her husband Erik have served as coordinators and mentors of the FLL program in Orleans County since it started in 2012 with one team. Last year it jumped tp three teams and now there are four.

Benjamin Williams of Albion, a member of the KOWZ team, assembles a Lego model during a drill in today’s competition.

The Prehistoric Robots team advanced to the First Lego League championships on Dec. 7 at the University of Rochester. The team also moved on the the UR competition in 2013. The team includes, from left: Anna Reese, Jacques Gregoire, Michael Reese (in back), Elaina Reese, Nathaniel Scott-Avery, Lucas Wilkins, JohnPaul Simon, Sharbell Simon and Will Gregoire.