CTMS Robotics Team Headed to State is Learning More than Engineering
Posted on 03/08/2023
The US-Bees team from CTMS is headed to the First® Lego® League (FLL) robotics state competition March 11, but along the way students are building other skills, like ‘coopertition.’

“Lego believes in ‘coopertition,’ a combination of competition and cooperation,” said Nate Dunn, CTMS engineering, robotics and technology teacher who coaches the team. “If teams are struggling, you help them out. Lego® would want you to share so you can beat other teams fair and square. It boils down to good sportsmanship.”

Coopertition is a quality that the team exemplifies, and earned the US-Bees, which is a pun on USB, the core values award at the North Texas FLL regionals.

The team is also learning about innovation, since one of the three parts of the competition invites students to develop a solution for a problem that is related to this year’s theme, “Energize.”

“Our innovation project is a foot pedal that generates energy,” said CTMS eighth grader Liesl Ackermann. ”We thought it was something that kids could do while reading. It would generate energy and reduce energy use throughout our school.”

The idea behind the team’s invention was that students could charge their Chromebooks with pedal power if they forgot to charge their devices at home. They even surveyed fellow students and received 180 responses in support of their idea.

In addition to an innovation project, the main project is about building a robot, while learning about science, technology, engineering and math.

“The main thing is the robot game,” Dunn said. “They get two-and-a-half minutes for their robot to get as many points as possible. They have to design the robot from scratch. There are a lot of robot pieces like motors and sensors and a brain that they program, but all the other pieces are just Lego® pieces and they have to figure out how to put them together.”

In the end, Dunn said that everything that is associated with this program should be student led, student driven.

“The robot that they built, that is all of them,” he added. “I had no input on the robot. I would watch them and say, ‘hey, have you thought about this,’ but I am not going to say ‘you need to do that.’ It’s supposed to be what they can imagine.”

GCISD also offers robotics in high school. Read the recent story about GCISD’s CTE Robotics team.