Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 22, 2014

Local students making robots from Legos

Somerset —

Pulaski County has some rising stars in the robotics world. 
“The Mad Science Lab” robotics team, made up of students from across Pulaski County and who attend a number of local schools, is quite possibly the youngest group to take on the task of building robots from scratch, complete with programmable functions. 
“The state is falling behind in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math),” said Rachel Riquelme, the group’s coach and the children’s minister at High Street Baptist Church. “We want to catch them while they’re young and inspire them and spur them on.”
Robotics has become a popular competitive hobby, with several teams already in place at local high schools. But younger and younger teams are taking part in competitions as well, including “The Mad Science Lab.”
The group is made up of second-grade through sixth-grade students, with many of them still in third- or fourth-grade. That made them an obvious choice for the “Rising Star” award, handed down to them in November at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Kentucky LEGO League Regional Qualifying Tournament in Hazard. 
“They were one of the youngest groups in the whole competition,” said Riquelme. 
We had a very, very young team who competed for the first time.”
But don’t let their fresh-faced appearances fool you. The kids, many of whom have been on the team since it formed last year, know their way around a LEGO Mindstorm kit, and on a Wednesday afternoon, you can find them at High Street Baptist Church (the common thread between them, as they all attend the church with their families) hard at work building and programming their own robots. 
“I think it’s a lot of fun,” said Savannah Burton, 10. “We have to brainstorm ideas for the robot to do.”

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