La Grande Snap-Its Team Competes in Sacramento Lego Robotics Championship

June 25, 2017 | Melissa Akers

“Three! Two! One!! LEGO!!” These words rang out signaling the start of the missions at the Lego Robotics tournaments. 

For the students of the Snap-Its team from La Grande Adventist Christian School in La Grande, Ore., this was their first experience and getting here had been quite the journey. More than a year before, their teacher saw the benefits of offering a Lego Robotics club at the school. She hoped to give the students an opportunity to expand not only their academic knowledge of math and science but to give them the chance to problem solve and work on teamwork skills. 

A donor was found and supplies purchased. Trevor Jones, a parent, agreed to coach the team. Ten students joined the team. The first few months of meetings where a steep learning curve for everyone. No one had used the EV3 programing software before, and very few had attended any competitions. 

Not knowing where to start, the team came up with a motto. They decided to use the KISS acronym: Keep It Strictly Simple. This motto expanded to the design of their robot, the missions they chose and the project they worked on. They would work on one mission or area until they perfected it, then moved on to another.

Everyone was extremely nervous at the regional tournament, held in Walla Walla, Wash. The La Grande team worked great at the team events but stumbled while presenting their project. Their robot wouldn’t drive straight during their practice missions. The team quickly did some troubleshooting with their robot and was ready for the tournament. Everyone on the Snap-Its team was surprised to receive the top score for the robotics missions. Their strategy had worked.   

Although they were excited about their success at Walla Walla, no one expected to receive an invitation to the Sacramento (Calif.) Lego Robotics Championship during the team’s first year. When the invitation to attend came, details for the trip were quickly put into place. 

The Snap-Its team hosted a dinner and raised more $1,000. The local car dealership donated the use of two vans for the trip. The Winnemucca (Nev.) Church provided lodging both going and returning.

The trip to the Sacramento championship was a learning experience for the team. They worked hard with their presentation skills and received a second place in both project presentation and their robot design. The team took turns with their robot missions and received the same score as they did during the regional competition, placing them in the middle of the group attending the tournament.

The Snap-Its team is excited for next year’s Lego Robotics club. They have been brainstorming new robot design ideas and how to accomplish the various tasks. It was exciting to see their success this year as they took a problem, thought outside the box and accomplished their goals.