MMS Robotics teams bring home state awards

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Manila Middle School made a good showing at the 1st Lego League Arkansas State Tournament held in December at Mountain Home.

Manila Middle School, under the coaching of Melissa Baker-Dawson, media specialist and robotics' coach expressed her appreciation to the teams, volunteers, community, administration, and others who help make the program a success.

Last year students participated in the Best Robotics through Arkansas State University. ASU lost their funding for the program and Manila Middle School joined the 1st Lego League group.

Ms. Baker-Dawson had 15 teams who went to Searcy for the qualifying competition. Out of the 15, three teams qualified for state. They are the 8/1 Destroy Team; the Twisters; and Team Dynamite.

"They all did well at state," Baker-Dawson said.

The 8/1 Destroy team won 1st Lego League Arkansas State tournament Core Value Award. This award is based on team work. The team builds a working robot programmed through a laptop. They have to exhibit their project and show and explain their challenge in two and a half minutes. This year's theme was Nature's Fury. The team is made up of eighth grade girls and they named their robot, "Brother Nature." The theme was a volcano. They developed a device that would sense sulfur and ash in an effort to warn area cities and houses of upcoming volcanic eruptions. They consulted a volcanologist in Hawaii for information. This team won the First Lego League Arkansas State tournament 2013 Core Values Award. This prestigious award is given to the one team that displays teamwork and cooperation. Members of the 8/1 Destroy team are Andi Jo Baker, Taylor Willis, Emily Smith, Gracyn Smith, Natalee Griffin, Jordan Tyler, Olivia Stankiewicz, Courtney Merritt

The Twisters' team, made up of seventh grade boys, won 1st Lego League Arkansas State Tournament Rookie Team of the Year. They named their robot "Storm." Members of the Twisters' team are Cade Cater, Hunter Vuletich, Jacob Tarver, Grant Salzer, Alex Walsh, Ethan Navarro.

In addition to the team awards, Mrs. Baker-Dawson received the Coach of the Year award.

The students held several fund raising events and purchased six robot kits to add to the ones they had from last year. They sponsored a dinner, sold cotton candy at football games, and held other fund-raisers.

"They are very dedicated," Baker-Dawson said. "They gave up the first day of their Christmas break to attend the State competition. The boys had a basketball game at Rivercrest the night we were leaving so we all went to Rivercrest to cheer them on and then loaded on the bus and headed to Mountain Home. We drove through a rain storm but made it to the motel at midnight and was up and ready for competition at 7 a.m. We are looking forward to next year."

The teams want to thank Hoghead Inflatables, Nucor Steel, Nucor Yamato, Middle School Principal LeeAnn Helms, Superintendent Pam Castor, Dawnna Cater, Brian and Gretchen Smith, and all of the teachers, community, and volunteers who helped make the program such a success.

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