Congratulations to the Northwood Middle School Back Street Birds! The ten-member team of students from the Northwood Challenge Corps program earned several top awards at the annual Illinois FIRST LEGO League Northern State Championship. Sixty-four teams advanced from more than 30 qualifying tournaments to participate in the event which was held at Elgin Community College on January 14.
The FIRST LEGO League is a global robotics program designed to ignite enthusiasm for discovery, science and technology among students age 9 to 14. Each year, teams of students from around the state are given a challenge related to a real-world problem. The teams are then expected to research and propose a solution to the problem, present their research and solutions, and build an autonomous robot using engineering concepts. This year’s challenge was titled Animal Allies. The students were challenged to identify a problem when people and animals interact; design a solution that makes the interaction better for animals, people or both; and share their problem and solution with others.
The Back Street Birds, won the State Innovation Award for their research, and then proceeded to earn the Global Innovation Award. The Global award makes the team eligible to submit their project for an opportunity to attend a world conference in Washington, DC later in the year. In addition, the team also earned the Team Spirit Award, voted upon by all competing teams. One Back Street Birds member was unable to attend the competition. In his absence, the team dedicated the day’s performance to him, and interacted with him via a live app, allowing him to participate with his teammates from a remote location.
Speaking about the team’s success, coach Gigi Carlson said, “We tell kids all the time - they can change the world. Stay in the struggle! Problem solve! This is one time when they can see the steps to how their hard work and dedication to service to improve a world problem might be possible. I am so incredibly proud of our students!”