Team from Metrolina Regional Scholars headed to nationals

ROBO-Rats built a winning rat

Four students from Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy will compete in the LegoLand North American Open FLL Competition in Carlsbad, Calif.
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Four students from Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy will compete in the LegoLand North American Open FLL Competition in Carlsbad, Calif.

Four students from Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy are headed to California May 20-22.

Sonika Gorrepati, Joshua Vincent, Anna VanBuren and Simran Bhatia make up the ROBO-Rats Lego League team, which builds and designs robots that are entered in regional, state and national competitions. After working tirelessly for more than four months, the team reached a goal they previously thought to be unattainable – a spot in the LegoLand North American Open FLL Competition in Carlsbad, Calif.

At the beginning of each season, Lego League teams across the nation are given a topic for the season’s competitions. The topic is required to be the main focus of that season’s presentations. This year, the topic is waste prevention.

During each tournament, teams are required to compete in three categories – core values, projects and robotics. At the end of each tournament, judges tally up points to determine each team’s total score.

Teams are judged throughout the tournament for the core values category. This category is broken into three subcategories: a team’s performance under stress, their teamwork and the Lego figure they create. This year, the ROBO-Rats built a rat.

“We made a rat, and we put a border of Legos on the side of our board to show that we’re all different and we have many different ideas, but they eventually come together to create something great,” Bhatia said.

For the project category, the team of middle school students focused on the prevention of e-waste in their community. The met with various members of the community to design REK my TV – a community e-waste project that collects and disposes of old televisions and computer monitors.

Through the project, individuals can purchase a bag and radio frequency identification (RFID) tag for $2 from the ROBO-Rats. Individuals can then wrap their electronic in the bag, attach the RFID tag and place it on the curb with their trash. The RFID tag is used to track the device and ensure proper disposal.

The robotics portion of the competition requires the team to build a robot from Lego pieces, and program the robot to complete mission. Tasks range from removing plastic bags from sea turtles to pushing a dump truck and emptying its contents.

“There are a lot of different angles we can approach each challenge at hand,” Gorrepati said. “Based on whichever we think is the most effective and takes less time.”

Carol VanBuren, one of two coaches for the ROBO-Rats team said this type of extracurricular activity helps the students see more practical ways to apply the things they learn in math and science classes.

“The kids can sit in math and science class, and it can seem very flat,” she said. “But if they’re seeing hands on technology, they can see what the end point is, and what they want to do.”

The team was awarded first place at the regional FLL Lego League competition, and second place in the state FLL Lego League competition. As a part of making it to the national level, the FLL Lego League awarded all members of ROBO-Rats passes to LegoLand in California.

The team has created an e-waste drive to collect high value e-waste and exchange it for money, a way to pay for their trip to nationals. The team also created a GoFundMe account, which has currently raised around $500.

School notes

South Charlotte Middle School

Science Olympiad

South Charlotte Middle School’s Science Olympiad team recently set a new record during their first time competing at the state level. The highest medal won was fifth place in the ‘Write in-Do it’ category, achieved by students Sunny Zhang and Aniketh Dumpala. Overall, the team placed 14th out of 100 schools, winning more medals than ever. Previously, the highest place the school had achieved was 20th.

National Junior Honor Society

Members of the National Junior Honor Society chapter recently volunteered to clean up rooms at the Ronald McDonald House. This was the second time this school year the team volunteered for the organization. As a part of their previous volunteer work, the chapter created art for each family residing at the Ronald McDonald House.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

Award-winning art

Students, grades 7-12 from seven CMS schools were given Gold Key Awards for their work submitted in the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing contest.

Their art is being displayed on billboards throughout Charlotte. Students honored were: Enoul Job from West Charlotte High; Autumn Yarmosh and Gabriel Goldhagen from Ardrey Kell High; Holden Kales from South Mecklenburg High; Hannah Magraw from Providence High; Simone Levine from Northwest School of the Arts; and Zoe Slusarick from William A. Hough High.

Ardrey Kell High School

Meals for the military

Roughly 20 cadets from Ardrey Kell’s JROTC program raised more than $3,000 to make 263 take-and-bake meals and 40 bags of nonperishables for families in the National Guard. The cadets prepared the 263 take-and-bake meals at Switchin’ Kitchens in Ballantyne for their senior project. This is the fourth year the group has made gourmet meals for National Guard members through Operation Homefront.

Carmel Christian School

New head of school

Michael B. Long will join the staff as the head of school on June 6. Most recently, he has served as the Upper School Head and an integral part of the leadership team at Fellowship Christian School in Roswell, Ga.

He is a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill with majors in. He holds a master’s degree in Christian school administration from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and has certifications in AP US history teaching and as an ACSI Administrator.The K-12 student body in the fall will be close to 900 students in the fall. The school is at 1145 Pineville-Matthews Road, Matthews.

Charlotte Country Day School

Student work on display

Five students from Charlotte Country Day’s lower school had their artwork on display at the Mint Museum this month for Youth Art Month. Ella Bowman, Emma Grace Hefner, Grace Bosco, Laura Kares and Cohen Stead are the students whose work has been displayed.

Providence Day School

Carnegie Hall performance

Anna Grace Willard, a ninth grader at Providence Day School was recently selected to perform at Carnegie Hall. She sang with the Honors Women’s Choir as part of the High School Honors Performance Series in New York City. During the performance, Willard was in the company of collegiate and professional music program representatives.

Charlotte Catholic High School

Student named Park Scholar

Matthew Salvino, a senior at Charlotte Catholic High School was recently named a Park Scholar by North Carolina State University.

He was also a finalist for Robertson Scholars Leadership Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Salvino is a semifinalist for the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholarship at Notre Dame University.

He is the Charlotte Catholic’s president of the school’s Honor Council and founder of the “Cougars 4 a Cure” campaign.

Sara Carson is a freelance writer: