The Coleytown/Bedford Middle School robotics team has once again advanced to the state final.
Ho hum. The “Mechanical Masterminds” do that about as regularly as you or I breathe.
It definitely is a big deal. This year’s FLL World Class Competition challenged more than 265,000 children from 80 countries. Teams must solve a problem that requires research, creative thinking and robot programming skills.
Each team designs, builds and programs a robot; poses a question that addresses the annual challenge; researches the topic, and develops a solution.
The Mechanical Masterminds chose to research the question: How can we help young people and their families in developing nations learn basic solutions to life challenges, in a way that hasn’t been done before?
The team developed a unique teaching app. It can be used on a solar-powered Samsung tablet, and distributed through existing networks to some of the poorest countries in Africa.
The app — which can run without Wi-Fi access — can teach someone without basic literacy skills how to build and deploy simple solutions to complex challenges like a lack of clean drinking water; food insecurity, and communication and public health issues.
For example, app users can build a mini-wind turbine out of simple PVC piping and wire to create enough energy to power a light bulb, cell phone or other small electrical device. They can also learn how to desalinate water.
The group met with Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles, and were in touch with executives at Google, Samsung, the World Bank and Coca-Cola as they prepared their project.
The state final is this Sunday (December 7) in Shelton. Good luck to team members Nick Ambrose, Rob Diorio, Ben Jia, Daniel Kornbluth, Justin Schmidt, Joe Xiang, Josh Zhang and Andy Zheng, head coach Steve Diorio and assistant coach Mark Kornbluth.