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Ready for State Mindstorm Competition

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013

The orginal robot the boys presented in the Regional Competition in Brookings. Gabe Hobbie, Devon Burggraff and Bradley Heinemann along side coach Shannon Mutschelknaus, stand with their medals and golden ticket in hand.

Many of you, since its creation 55 years ago, have played with Legos, but few of you have used Legos the way three Flandreau youth have over the past year.

Devon Burggraff, Gabe Hobbie and Bradley Heinemann, along with their coach Shannon Mutschelknaus, have created a team called the “Purple Mind Storm Men” in order to compete in the First Lego League, in co ordinance with the South Dakota Robotics Association.

First Lego League is and international program for students 9-14 years old and has been around since 1998, but only recently has Flandreau gotten in the mix. The idea behind the league is get kids excited about science and technology by using Lego’s “Mindstorm” technology by having children work alongside a mentor to create, build and program autonomous robots, while creating innovative solutions to a problem that affects every day life. This year’s topic for competition was Senior Solutions.

The Purple Mind Storm Men decided that they were going to tackle osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, a problem with deteriorating joints in seniors.

So for several weeks the kids researched, designed, practiced and prepped a robot that, when used correctly, would inject a shot into the troubled area and form cartilage so that a senior with osteoarthritis, cold regain function in their deteriorating joints. The students also had to create a poster board explaining the issue, regular treatments, where it is found, and even what foods you can eat to help prevent osteoarthritis.

After those long eight weeks of preparation, the Purple Mind Storm Men got a chance to showcase their robot to the Judges at the Regional First Lego League event in Brookings on December 1st of last year.

They competed with 15 other teams all looking to receive a trip to the South Dakota state competition held in Sioux Falls this February. After all teams were showcased and all judging was completed, the Purple Mind Storm Men, despite being the smallest group represented, received a “Golden Ticket” to the state competition.

The boys have had since December to perfect their performance and presentation as well as add on a few new key features to their program in order to gain more points during competition. They will be able to showcase their robot in front of the judges at Augustana College next Saturday, February 9th.

Although the competition is not over, the boys are very grateful for their coach Shannon, who volunteered many hours mentoring and teaching the boys during this project. They would also like to thank Mrs. Julie Relf, Mrs. Beth Nelson, and Mr. Jacob Shoup all of whom volunteered their time so the boys could practice their skit and discuss their robot design. The feedback they received helped the boys a lot in preparing for the regional and state competition.

Most other teams in the league are school ran, such as Brookings and Sioux Falls Christian, Flandreau’s team was organized by a set of parents who were looking for a way to challenge their child’s mind. Their hope is to get Flandreau’s program into the school as well as create another team for older participants.

If you are interested in having your child involved in the First Lego League, go to their website at www.firstlegoleague.org. Registration for next year’s competition started in January and ends March 1st. Teams can have up to 10 members.

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