Martinsville City Schools co-hosted 19 teams from across the state of Virginia and D.C. in the FIRST LEGO League Southwest Regional Qualifying Tournament on January 30, 2021.
Teams from Newport News, Hampton, Hillsville, Blacksburg, Washington, D.C., Salem, and Martinsville competed in a virtual FIRST LEGO League Robotics competition. Ten division 1 teams and nine division 2 teams prepared presentations for core values, innovative project, and robot design, while also working to complete robot missions on the 2020-2021 RePLAY challenge board.
Though this season was extremely different and there were many challenges teams faced while practicing 100% virtually, Martinsville City Schools’ teams persevered. Students worked through zoom meetings, phone calls, group text messages, Microsoft teams, and any other way that they could find to communicate to get the job done.
The “tournament was so much more than I could have ever expected and certainly could not have happened without the help of numerous, amazing volunteers,” said STEM and Career Coordinator Lizzy Fulcher. “The teams in the tournament were outstanding! They persevered through challenging times and displayed their amazing work. I am incredibly proud of all Martinsville City Schools’ robotics teams!”
Martinsville Middle School’s Team 8808, Absolute Zero, was the first-place champion for Division 2. This team is comprised of students in grades 6-9 and is coached by Liz Lynch and Emily Harrell. Team members include Karlee Shively, Kassidy Dodson, Reagan Wright, Nayti Patel, Tyler Carr, Ruby Flores, Natalie LaPrade, Yadira Tamayo-Carillo, Kate Jarrett, and Madalyn Keller. Absolute Zero had an impressive day at the tournament displaying their innovative solution to the problem of how to make people more active, their use of core values, sharing their robot that was simple, yet sturdy all while managing to rank a high score of 365 in the robot game. Absolute Zero will advance to the state tournament in February.
“I love being on Absolute Zero,” said Absolute Zero team member Reagan Wright. “We all work together so well and have fun. AZ really is like a family! Even though the tournament was virtual, I still had a lot of fun. I’m glad that we won and get to continue competing together.”
Martinsville Middle School’s Magical Unicodes were the first-place Innovative Project winner in Division 2. This team is comprised of students in grades 6-8 and is coached by Greg Hackenberg and Robert Ashby. Team members include Skyylar Miller, Julie Nguyen, Ben Wood, Sophia Blair-Chisom, Gavin Luther, Josue Zaldivar, Victor Correa, John Nguyen, Aidan Hood, Isabella Hood, and student mentors, Aliyah Hairston and Abigail Haskew. Students on this team created an innovative solution that would allow people to be more active by participating in escape rooms made up of different physical activities. They will also be advancing to the state competition in February.
“Our project could help our community have fun and would be a competitive way to work out while using your brain,” said Magical Unicodes team member Victor Correa. “The Magical Unicodes had an amazing day and did well in all competition areas.”
Patrick Henry Elementary School’s Team 8810, The LadyBots, was the first-place Core Values winner for Division 1. This first-year team is comprised of students in 4th grade from Patrick Henry Elementary School and is coached by Liz Lynch and Rita Ybarra. Team members include Arianna Ybarra, Maryam Durham, Aurora Rankin, Kirsten Henderson, Zoey Harmon, Summer Jordan, Maheva Simon, Rebekah Barrow, and Bridgette Brent. The LadyBots demonstrated their ability to have fun during a challenging season while using their core values. The LadyBots will also be advancing to the state tournament in February.
“I’m really excited that we are going to the state championship!” said LadyBots team member Bridgette Brent. “Since it was my first time, I didn’t think that we would get anything. It was challenging since we couldn’t all be together, but all of the hard work was worth it.”
“Our students at MCPS continue to display their brilliance and versatility,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Zeb Talley. “I am elated to see the great professionalism of our staff and dedication of our students. Accumulating these skills will ensure that students will succeed brilliantly in the 21st century.”