Junior Innovation Lab Students Use Robotics to Solve Real Problems

Students in the Junior Innovation Lab have started their first major project of the year, designing a robot that can solve senior citizen problems, for the FIRST Lego League competition.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) introduces students to the world of science and technology. The robotics competition, which will be held early next year, measures the team’s ability to design and construct a robot, as well as come up with a problem and its solution. It also evaluates the students’ ability to work as a team and good sportsmanship.

The students have been tasked with designing a Lego robot that can accomplish various missions related to senior problems—for example, being unable to open a pill bottle or clean the house. Earlier this week, the Junior Innovation Lab students started building missions for their robot to complete. Ian Morgan built a transition bridge, which will allow the robot to move from one mission to another; Jaden Shapiro built a bowling “alley”; Tycho Burwell built an aid to allow a robot to go shopping; Orlando Narizzano built a dog-walking mission; and Quentin Bazar built a ball game challenge. Next week, the students will start building the actual robot and eventually start programming it.

“Writing a program can make them much more sophisticated thinkers,” said teacher Elaine Parshall. Aside from teaching students how to think differently, overall the Junior Innovation Lab is also just fun—at least according to the students. “Innovation Lab sounds really cool. I want to build hover shoes,” said Quentin.

“I like programming. I do a lot of animation and I make robots at my house,” said Tycho, who added that he signed up because “I knew we would get to make robots and invent our own objects.”

“Innovation Lab allows you to be creative with everything you build,” said Jaden.

Applications for Junior Innovation Lab are still being accepted. See www.ross.org/juniorlab for details.