Eight eighth grade robotics students, better known as Control+Alt+Delete made history this week after being chosen as the first robotics team to represent the state of Georgia in the FLL International Open Championship this summer in the United Kingdom.
This honor comes on the heels of an impressive season where the team amassed awards and trophies at regional, super regional, and state FLL tournaments. The fact that the team is all female is especially noteworthy given the ongoing gender gap in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) fields.
According to a 2016 report by the National Science Foundation, less than one-quarter of current STEAM careers are filled by women; even more alarming, minority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers.
Fulton Science Academy aims to dismantle these unnecessary gender gaps by encouraging female students to embrace subjects like robotics. FSAPS Principal, Kenan Sener, commented, “Whether we can see them or not, robots are already a very important part of everyday life. Just last week, Disney announced the development of robots, including “humanoid robots” that have been adapted for soft contact and/or interaction with a human. The military uses highly developed robots to test hazmat suits. And companies like Tesla, Google, and Facebook are investing huge amounts of capital into robotics, AI research, and development. Robots are definitely here to stay, which is why early exposure to programs such as the First Lego League is so important for our students.”
Team Control+Alt+Delete is one of more than 32,000 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams to compete in robotics competitions annually. The program tasks students in more than 80 countries to think like scientists and engineers. Winning teams ascend to tournaments of increasing levels of competitiveness, with the World Championships being one of the most desirable destinations.
FSAPS Robotics Coach, Yasin Kaya, remembers the day he was notified that his team was chosen to advance to the UK. “When Georgia’s First Lego League Operational Partner, Jeff Rosen, shared the news, I was elated. I remember asking Mr. Rosen if Control+Alt+Delete was the state’s first all-female team to compete globally at this scale. He explained that not only were they the first all-female team, but also that they were the first team EVER to be chosen, I was speechless. This honor is not lost on these talented young ladies or myself. They continue to work countless hours to prepare for England; they are very much in it to win it!”
FLL’s theme for this year is "ANIMAL ALLIES." Competing teams must choose and solve a real-world problem, as well as propose a solution to this problem using an animal. Detailed research, presentation materials, prototype creation are all necessary ingredients.
Students were also required to build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology. The robot was programmed to solve a set of missions during the competition’s timed Robot Challenge. Missions varied in difficulty depending upon the operating team.
Control+Alt+Delete decided to tackle this year’s FLL challenge by researching a more natural way to eliminate mosquitos without using pesticides. Pesticides have been linked to adverse health effects including brain tumors (PubMed.gov), so the young ladies wanted to identify an alternative to harmful chemicals. Through their research, team members learned that bats are a natural remedy and that they can eat up to five thousand mosquitoes each night. Also, the girls learned that bats are somewhat easy to attract, so they pursued this concept in more detail.
In conjunction with FLL’s requirements, Team Control+Alt+Delete constructed a bat house using a 3D printer, engineering, and programming. The bat house included a vent can that will open or close based upon the temperature because bats are affected by temperature. If the exterior temperatures rise above 65ºF, the vent is programmed to open (allowing air circulation and an increased likelihood that bats will visit), but if temperatures drop below 65ºF, the vent is programmed to close. These variations allow bats to remain inside and stay warm; the bat house can be placed in larger areas where there is a high volume of pesky mosquitos.
Along with the bat house, members of Control+Alt+Delete also created a smaller, separate mosquito trap using carbon dioxide and LED lights. The combination of these materials will attract mosquitos towards a fan that sucks them into the enclosure. The entire project was detailed in an impressive engineering notebook, and team members used this log, as well as their designs, when presenting their work to numerous judging panels.
The team also didn’t cut any corners on the robot challenge. The ladies built a strong robot tasked with accomplishing the most difficult missions possible within a set timeframe. Throughout their experience, the ladies had to operate under FLL’s signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism®.
Hard work is no stranger to Control+Alt+Delete. In addition to maintaining rigorous course loads, team members spend an average of ten hours weekly working on their team, one with a very special name.
“We chose the name, Control+Alt+Delete for a very special reason,” said team member, Manasvi Gaddam. “Much the same way a person needs to hit all three keys (Control+Alt+Delete) in unison on a keyboard to reboot a computer, so too do we rely upon the skills and talents of ALL of our team members working in unison to perform at our fullest potential."
Operating at their fullest potential is definitely their ultimate goal. Jeff Rosen, speaking on behalf of Georgia’s FLL League, stated, “This team is one that never says never! They are beautifully poised to represent Georgia and the United States this summer in the UK. Everyone is so excited to follow the team’s progress. These young women are very positive role models and I hope will encourage more girls to pursue STEAM careers.”
The International Open Championship will be held at the University of Bath, Bath, UK, June 21-25, 2017. Team members are trying to raise $10,000 to cover travel-related expenses. Tax-deductible contributions from individuals, companies, and foundations can be made at https://donate.fultonscienceacademy.org/campaign/control-alt-delete-robotics-team-heads-to-uk/c119725.
About Fulton Science Academy
Fulton Science Academy Private School (FSAPS) has fostered a “yearn to learn” culture where students embrace an innovative, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum. FSA’s study body (Pre-K through high school) is diverse and reflects award-winning academic teams, competitive athletes, personal entrepreneurs, professional working actors, and award-winning critical thinkers. Built upon core values of excellence, innovation, and character, FSAPS has engineered a school of tomorrow, today. For more information, please visit http://www.fultonscienceacademy.com.
*(Portions of this release were reprinted from https://ngcproject.org/statistics and http://www.techinsider.com