Coos Bay middle schoolers make state championship

Olive McClusky, 4th grade, and Autumn Cadenhead, 5th grade, are from Sunset Middle School and part of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League with the Coos Bay School District.

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COOS BAY — An all-girl robotics team is moving on to the state championships.

Olive McClusky, fourth grade, and Autumn Cadenhead, fifth grade, are from Sunset Middle School and part of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League with the Coos Bay School District.

They, along with other teams in the district, participated in a regional competition in Myrtle Creek on Dec. 2.

“Last year we had two teams from Millicoma Middle School make it to the State Tournament, but none went on to nationals from there,” said Adrian DeLeon, district school board chairman and FIRST Lego League coach and mentor.

During the regional competition, the teams went head-to-head in three challenges. The first was the robotic game, which is played on a table with a mat on top. The mat has Lego robots stuck to it. The students have to design and program the robot to move around the table and complete certain missions that involve picking up objects and moving them around, to pushing levers and turning knobs.

“The second part is to solve a project,” DeLeon described. “The teams do a research project based on a real world problem.”

This year’s theme was hydro-dynamics and how people find, transport, use and/or dispose of water.

“Our team took on the issue of finding drinkable water after a natural disaster,” DeLeon said.  “It would become a scarce resource and in our area we couldn’t get to other resource of water.”

The team made a solar still out of household items including a bunt pan, poster board, tape, saran wrap, and a cup.

“It distills water,” he said. “You can put salt water or other unclean water in and get drinkable water out.”

The final part of the competition is to follow the eight core values held by the league throughout the season and during the tournament.

“They stress professionalism and cooperation so they can compete and still be friends at the end of the day,” DeLeon said.

As for McClusky and Cadenhead going on to the state competition, DeLeon said they were excited.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students,” he said. “A couple years ago we had one of our FIRST students recognized because of her participation on the robotics team and she got to introduce the governor at a business conference.”

If anyone is interested in creating a robotics team, DeLeon says he can help.

“These teams aren’t just affiliated with schools,” he said. “Boy Scouts and 4-H and private groups can contact me and I can help them get started.”

To reach DeLeon, email him at AdrianD@coos-bay.k12.or.us.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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