Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Local boys start Lego Club, prepare to compete


Six boys with a passion for anything Lego have combined forces for a chance to win at a Lego competition on January 19 at Edmonds Heights School in Edmonds, their local competition.

The boys, Cameron Hirschi,14, Aiden Holm, 13, Dawson Holm, 11, Jamie Klinman, 13, Danny Schmiesing, 9 and Erik Schmiesing,14, will be competing in the First Lego League (FLL) competition which is a world class competition. Dad, Dan Schmiesing, is the team's coach.

"This is our second year in FLL Lego robotics, but I have had the robot since we were about 7 or 8," Erik Schmiesing said.

Schmiesing's dad heard about the competition at work and told his kids about it. They were excited and told their friends. 

"I told some of my friends about it," Erik said. "They decided that it seemed fun, so we set up a team!"

The FLL website explains the challenge this way:

"In early fall, FLL releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic." (This year's theme is Nature's Fury.)

"Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project and the FLL Core Values. Teams of up to ten children, with one adult coach, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified, all guided by the FLL Core Values. Teams may then choose to attend an official tournament, hosted by one of our Operational Partners."

Even though the expectations are high, the boys decided they were up to the challenge.

"We were already best friends so we decided to take on a challenge together," Aiden Holm explained. "We build and program the robot over a period of about three months." 

Preparing for the competition has taken hours of hard work and cooperation by the boys. They meet every Monday and Friday for two hours to work on the robot.

"One thing I can tell you is that the robot is not large.  Though the final size will vary depending upon how the boys design it,  it is smallish and built on a Lego Mind Storms platform, so it is pretty easy to deliver," Tija (Mom) Schmiesing said. "The design of the robot is one of the things that is evaluated during the competition, via how well the robot performs the predefined standardized tasks.  It is more challenging than it might seem!" 

Working together has helped the boys become even better friends and have taught them a lot about teamwork.

"We think that while working on the robot, we have developed skills that help us divide the work up well by having different team members work on different parts of the robot such as the gear drive and chassis," Erik said. "Also, we've learned that the most efficient way to work as a team is by using your gracious professionalism."

It's important to note that while the competition is just about building a really cool robot as a team, they also had to do "homework" to ensure that their robot would fit the league's criteria.

"The competition isn't only about the robot. We also have to research a natural disaster that occurs commonly and then choose a community that suffers from it. After doing that, the team has to think of a solution to that disaster, and we present our idea in the form of an exciting skit," Aiden explained. "Lastly, we are a group of six kids and the younger kids on our team have learned a bunch."

While this may all be for a competition on a serious world problem, the kids are having a great time preparing for it.


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