Mirman Robots get ready for FLL Qualifying Tournament this weekend

11/17/16 12:02:pm
| Category: Robotics

Legos are fun on their own, certainly. But taken to another level by special software, programming skills, and design thinking? The little blocks are no longer just child’s play.

Through the First LEGO League Robotics challenge, Mirman is fielding two robotics teams this year from a combined total of ten students. These teams have been hard at work rising to the challenges given to them in the tournaments. Alongside coaches Ms. Ghazarian and Amanda Sullivan, with mentorship by Jeffery Flagg, these teams have been practicing on campus as well as in a recent practice tournament earlier this month, where they received a Programming Design Award.

According to coach Arpa Ghazarian, Mirman’s robotics teams have been hard at work preparing for their qualifying tournament this weekend on November 19, where they will be challenged within the theme of “Animal Allies.” To complete these challenges, the teams have to think of people and animals as allies in the quest to make life better for everyone, and use that philosophy to create innovations and solve problems to help our counterparts in the animal world.

Ms. Ghazarian explained that the robots made by the team indeed require the students to learn and understand the FLL programming software, which allows students to code using “blocks” – essentially pieces of logic that function together to execute tasks. But not only do these creations show technical prowess, there’s much more that goes into a robot’s design than the nuts and bolts. In a recent practice, a visitor from the Eco Station in nearby Culver City came with some friends – a chinchilla, an iguana, and, to the chagrin of many, a tarantula – to talk to students about some of the unique challenges that animals face in our world today.

At every turn in this project, explained Ms. Ghazarian, there are benchmarks, or “Core Values,” that students must meet. During the tournament, judges will walk around and observe how well students embody these values as they work to complete the robotics challenges.

“Contrary to what people might think, they actually spend less time programming and building, and more time figuring out how to work as a team and strategize,” said Ms. Ghazarian. “I would say group work and compromise is one of the biggest skills they learn from this program.”

That spirit of collaboration and teamwork was on full display during a recent practice in the Innovation Design lab as the students buzzed around the room working to solve practice games. One Upper School 2 student, Jocelyn S., shared some of her excitement about the upcoming tournaments: “It’s fun and it’s a way for me to learn new things and get new friends in a way that I like,” she said. “What I’m looking forward to is mostly having fun and sharing ideas and seeing other peoples ideas on their robot and their projects.”

The team will head into its qualifying tournament this weekend, and depending on how they perform, hopes to extend their season into the World tournament next year.