Lights, Cameras, Robots

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LSSU Robots
On the left are Lakeside Legends - aka, Petoskey (Mich.) #2 - while on the right are the Battery Bashers from Washington Elementary in the Sault. (Photo by John Shibley)

Teams battle it out with autonomous robots on a closed track during the seventh annual FIRST LEGO League qualifying tournament hosted Nov. 21 on the Lake Superior State University Arts Center main stage in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Elementary and middle school teams from the Eastern Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Michigan entered Lego creations that had to use optical and mechanical sensors to steer themselves through the obstacle course.

This year’s competition theme was Trash Trek, a springboard to consider all manifestation of trash – from food to electronics to hazardous waste – and how planning, recycling and technology can manage it. Petoskey #2 eventually took the tournament championship, but not before Washington school bettered them in the tabletop track competition pictured here.

Downstate teams included the Raydernators from Charlevoix, plus the two-colored “L4s” from Petoskey. Representing the Eastern Upper Peninsula were Washington Battery Bashers (Sault), St. Mary’s Somos Enfeugo (Sault), the Lake-n-nators from Mackinac Island, and Les Cheneaux’s Younger Yooper Troopers (Cedarville). LSSU’s student chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) successfully pulled together a robot entry assembled the night before.

This year’s judges included the DNR’s Theresa Neal, head interpreter at Tahquamenon State Park; head LSSU softball coach Lori Shimasaki; LSSU environmental science professor Megan Kelly; and Lindsay Maynard with LSSU’s Foundation. Students, faculty, and staff from Lake State’s education, engineering, geology, and business and economics academic departments joined with Sault Area Schools to provide volunteer technicians and assistants.