Nine robotics teams will be competing in the second annual Waianae District First LegoLeague Robotics Tournament on November 10 (photo courtesy of UH Manoa’s PALS program)

Students along the Waiʻanae Coast are learning and practicing skills in preparation for their futures—futures that require research, technology and teamwork. Nine robotics teams will be competing in the second annual Waiʻanae District First LegoLeague (FLL) Robotics Tournament on Saturday, November 10, noon at Waiʻanae High School. The winning teams will move on to a spot in the Hawaiʻi state championship. 

FLL robotics was brought to nine Waiʻanae Coast teams last year with administrative and funding support from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s PALS (Program for Afterschool Literacy Support). The Waiʻanae teams made a strong showing at their first tournament last year, placing in the top 50 percent ahead of many veteran teams.

The nine teams represent Kamaile Academy, Leihoku Elementary, Nānāikapono Elementary, Waiʻanae Elementary and Waiʻanae Intermediate Schools and Mānana Elementary.  

Kellen Smith, a PALS support specialist and the Waiʻanae Tournament Coordinator, said that the FLL robotics program uses toys to bridge the gap between play and education, so that learning is fun. “The children discover that they can be creative in science and math. The aim is to boost their confidence so that they will be able to tackle more difficult coursework in high school and become college ready.”

Robotics team finds Senior Solutions

The theme of the 2012 FLL robotics tournament is Senior Solutions. The challenge has gone out to more than 20,000 FLL teams in 61 countries to use robotics as a way to improve the quality of life for senior citizens in their communities. The theme must be addressed in three activities’a robot game, a special project and the expression of core values. 

As part of their Senior Solutions special project, several youngsters from the Waiʻaiane robotics teams conducted interviews with area kūpuna and organized a sign-waving event with slogans reminding passers-by to respect their elders. The Waiʻanae teams will be debuting their robots at the upcoming tournament and will be judged partly on how well the autonomous machines provide answers to questions of how seniors can remain independent and engaged in their communities.

—Adapted from a UH Mānoa news release

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