|WE DID IT! – Mindstorms Mayhem
members Nathan Streeter of Bedford; David Schunemann and Jean Marc Le
Doux of Hollis; Katie Hammes, Melissa Gray and Nicholas Hammes of
Milford; Victoria Umenhofer and Dan Umenhofer of Wilton; Ryan Simard
of Lyndeborough; and Amelia Jennings of Merrimack receive the
Director's Award trophy at the New Hampshire State FIRST Lego League
Tournament on Dec 11. (Courtesy Photo)
No Limit in Helping the Disabled
By KEN STREETER
Three Bedford FIRST Lego League teams, the Mindstorms Mayhem, the
Munchkins and the McKelvie DarkSeerS, took this year’s theme “No
Limits” to the extreme and earned top awards at the New Hampshire State
Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 11, at Nashua High School North.
The teams competed against 46 other teams to build
and program a robot to solve nine missions through research, problem
solving and teamwork.
|IT WORKS – Munchkins teammates Adam
Spierer, Roxanne Harmon and Stephanie Schaeberle practice manuevers
forthe FIRST Lego League’s competition. Not pictured is member Kevin
Walch. (Courtesy Photo)
The robot had to complete tasks that a
disabled person or student might encounter, such as move a CD to a
desk, put a ball in a basket, serve a tray of food, feed pets, open a
gate, read the correct colored bus sign, push in chairs, bring a pair
of glasses back to base and end with the robot on the top of some
“One of the most difficult things was completing
the pamphlet and instruction sheets to aid disabled patrons of the
library,” said Mindstorms Mayhem member Nathan Streeter, 12, of
Bedford. “Another troublesome task was refining the robot. We
solved these issues by sharing the tasks with all the team
Mindstorms Mayhem is a team of homeschoolers
from Bedford, Milford, Merrimack, Wilton, Hollis and Lyndeborough.
The Munchkins are a four-student neighborhood team from
Bedford, including Kevin Walch, Adam Spierer, Roxanne Harmon and
Stephanie Schaeberle. The DarkSeerS are a team of 10 students from
McKelvie Middle School.
During the Dec. 11 competition, the
teams competed in three preliminary rounds with their robots, followed
by the playoffs for the eight top scoring teams. Teams were also
judged on robot design, robot performance, research and teamwork.
Mindstorms Mayhem placed first in robot performance and earned
the prestigious Director’s Award for top honors across all
judging categories. The team will represent New Hampshire at the
international competition held in conjunction with the US FIRST
Robotics Championship in Atlanta in the spring.
received the second-place Robust Programming Award for their
exceptionally reliable programming, which automatically follows walls
and lines. This was the second consecutive year that the team was
recognized at the New Hampshire finals with a programming
“The greatest challenge of the competition was to
stay calm under pressure to operate our robot and when we did, the
robot did the all challenges very well.” said Kevin Walch of the
The McKelvie DarkSeerS were awarded the
second-place Innovative Solution Award for their work on the research
project. In November, the Dark-Seers also won a Director’s Award
at the state qualification tournament.
Mindstorms Mayhem, one
of several teams sponsored by BAE Systems, had been meeting several
times each week since mid-September brainstorming and building in a
teammate’s basement. As this was the team’s third year in
the competition, the students had to write their own programs,
problem-solve and design a robot that could solve the year’s
challenges. The robot had a time limit two minutes, 30 seconds to
complete the tasks.
“Learning much about programming
gave us some knowledge that we could use in the future to develop new
technologies specifically for disabled people,” said Walch.
In addition to robot design, each team presented a research
project to a panel of judges.
‘We focused on social
issues, specifically general awareness towards people with disability
in public places such as Wal-Mart,” said Munchkins member
Mindstorms Mayhem partnered with the
Milford Wadleigh Memorial Library Trustees to help make the library
more accessible to people with disabilities. The team developed and
distributed a brochure and instruction sheets for some software
programs installed on the library computer that make using the
computer easier for people who are visually impaired.
DarkSeerS researched throughout McKelvie Middle School to find
obstacles to attending the school for a student with a disability. To
understand the challenges faced by a disabled student, they traveled
around the school in a wheelchair, wore vaseline-covered glasses to
simulate a visual impairment, and taped together their fingers to
model a physical disability. Their project presentation included
suggestions to make McKelvie more accessible to a student with
Included in the competition this year was a
pilot program for children aged 6 to 9. In the Junior FLLprogram,
teams of up to five students had to build a LEGO model of a building,
identify inacessibilities, make a wind-up LEGO car and assemble what
they learned in a “show-me-sheet.” Mini Mayhem, younger
siblings of Mindstorms Mayhem formed a team.
information on US FIRST and FIRST Lego League, visit www.usfirst.org.