Frenchville students place in Lego League space competition
FRENCHVILLE, Maine — A group of young innovators from the Dr. Levesque Elementary School Robotics Program returned pumped up from the state championship Lego League competition in Augusta on Dec. 8, where they pitched a game changing idea they refer to as Nova Pups.
Out of 50 teams at the competition, the Nova Pups took 2nd place for their presentation and research. Organizers challenged participants aged 9 to 14 with various tasks that included choosing and solving a real-world problem; and building, programming and testing an autonomous robot with Lego technology to solve certain missions. Judges rated the students on how they did in the robot game and their real-world project, and how well they worked together as a team.
“We were really honored because we had a hard time with our robot and our project and we weren’t sure we were going to make it against 50 teams,” said 12-year-old Nova Pup team member Ella Voisine. “But we got second place, so we were really happy.”
Levesque Elementary School Principal Lisa Bernier said that for the project part of the competition, teams had to come up with an entirely new idea, or they could work with an existing idea with the stipulation that they had to make it better.
“It’s not just about racing robots,” she said.
The project involved thinking of ways to inspire the creation of something new that would have a positive impact connected to the competition’s theme, “Into Orbit”.
“I am passionate about dogs, and one day, a student looked at me and said, ‘Mrs. Bernier, can’t we take dogs and turn them into service dogs for astronauts?’” Bernier recalled.
After extensive research, the team discovered that astronauts often have anxiety and depression while in space, and even when they return. After they identified this problem, the little engineers then decided that the best dogs to use would be from a shelter.
Bernier said the team had to come up with designs and plans for how the dogs would survive in space and how they would eat, go to the bathroom, and sleep.
“We are very proud of our accomplishments,” she said.