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Kayne Siart Students Win Robotics Competition

Kayne Siart Students Take Two Trophies in Lego Robotics Competition

Two robotics teams from Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Kayne Siart campus competed in the FIRST Lego League (FLL) Qualifying Tournament at La Cañada High School Saturday and Sunday, November 21st and 22nd. The ten middle school students of the “Labyrinth Decoders” team competed Saturday. Tournament judges awarded the “Labyrinth Decoders” a second-place trophy for excellent robotic design and computer programing strategies. Sunday a second team of ten CNCA students, the “Wormhole Wizards,” captured first place from a field of thirty-two teams from throughout South California. Judges presented the “Wormhole Wizards,” with the Champion’s Award for overall excellence in all aspects of the competition including: robotic design, computer programing, robotic execution, scientific research, and teamwork. This achievement earned the “Wormhole Wizards” a coveted spot in the FLL Regional Finals, Sunday, December 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at La Cañada High School.

The judges were particularly impressed by the scientific research conducted by the CNCA students. The theme for this year’s FLL competition was “responding to the impact of human produced trash on our environment.” Our middle school team investigated ideas to address the theme. They discovered that on September 30, 2015, Stanford University published research that demonstrated microbes inside the gut of mealworms could break down Styrofoam into organic material. Our students decided to conduct their own research to build upon this finding. They tested whether or not other forms of plastic might also function as a food source for mealworms. The preliminary results seem to indicate that mealworms can indeed derive sustenance from various forms of plastics sufficient to support mealworms through various stages of the animal’s lifecycle from larva, to pupa, and eventually to beetles. In fact, several of the plastics tested proved superior in this regard when tested against the control variable, which is wheat bran (the common food provided commercially to mealworms).

The growth curve for mastering the challenges of this robotic competition is steep for students and coaches alike. This is the second year of the robotics program at CNCA Kayne Siart. Sixth grade teacher, Nathaniel Shultice, launched the effort last year with one team of eight students – an all male group. This fall Mr. Shultice implemented a strategy to engage female middle school students in the robotics program. In its second year the program has grown to include twenty students, attracting participants from all three middle school grades. Twenty-five percent of the CNCA Lego Robotics participants this year are female, including one of the two team-captains.

Coaching support has been strong. In addition to Mr. Shultice, Mr. Esteban Guardado, Kayne Siart’s Instructional Aide for math and science volunteered his time on Saturdays to coach and guide robotics program participants. Two doctoral students from USC Viterbi School of Engineering also coached. Mr. Zhe (Harry) Su and Mr. Keyvan Rezaei Moghadam of USC connected with Mr. Shultice and CNCA through an NSF funded program that places science and engineering doctoral candidates in middle school classrooms. They each volunteered on Saturdays during the two and a half month robotic competition season. Ms. Kome Egregor, sixth grade humanities teacher, coached students in preparation for their oral presentations.

The achievements of CNCA Kayne Siart’s robotics teams in the FLL Qualifying Tournament is testimony to the dedication of all the students and coaches alike. Everyone is invited to join the parents, fellow students, teachers and staff at the FLL Regional Finals on Sunday, December 13th at La Cañada High School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to cheer on the “Wormhole Wizards” as they meet the next level of Lego robotics competition.

See some photos of Lego Robotics HERE