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The City Journals

Beehive Academy Wins State Lego Robotics Title, to Compete at Internationals

Apr 07, 2016 04:16PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Sandy - While sitting at Utah Valley University on Jan. 30, listening to groups receive special trophies at the state championship of the first Lego robotics competition, several Beehive Science & Technology Academy students said they gave up hope at winning an award.

“Everyone was sad, especially after working hard on the robot design, and we refined the robot game so it would be more consistent,” said sixth-grader Asim Kablam, who was competing in the program for his first time. “There were only three trophies, so it didn’t look like we were going to get anything.”

Eighth-grader and returning team member Trinity Mauer remembered her mother telling her not to get her hopes up. 

Then, seventh-grader Masaki Tanaka heard a pun with the word “bee” which alerted him that maybe there was a chance. 

“They usually announce winning teams with puns, so I looked around to see if another group could be a winner,” he said.

“I heard them announced us, and Austin (Grant) and I began to cry, and I can’t remember what happened next,” Asim said.

Now after the win that surprised them, the group is back to refining its robot game and adding another mission to ensure it gets the maximum points possible.

The First Lego League competition allows students from age 9 to age 14 to compete in core values where “what we learn is more important than what we win,” an innovative project and presentation, and a robot design and performance. Students build Lego-based robots to complete predetermined missions. Through the competition, students apply real-world math and science concepts, research challenges, learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills while having fun competing in tournaments.

This year about 300 teams across Utah competed in regional qualifying tournaments to the state round of 48 teams. Beehive’s robotics team won the state championship with the most overall points. 

Now as the team, which includes members seventh-grader Kaden Gordon, sixth-grader Stephanie Altamar, seventh-grader Zack Nelson, sixth-grader Rodger Downward and seventh-grader Jackson Burt, is raising $15,000 for international competition in St. Louis, Missouri, April 27–30 with fundraising events and a Go Fund Me site,, as well as revisiting all components of their competition.

Their presentation is a skit based upon their challenge project that matches the competition theme, “Trash Trek.”

“We came up with an ordinance for multi-house families and business to recycle,” Kaden said. “We met with (Sandy) City Council on Dec. 1 and wrote the ordinance and sent it to them Jan. 26.”

Sandy City Council was slated to introduce the ordinance for discussion on March 15, Asim said.

Kaden said that the cost would be minimal for businesses, up to a maximum of $10 per month, and it would be required for them but optional for housing units.

“We talked to the Trans Jordan Landfill folks and learned that it is almost full, but about 80 percent of it could have been recycled,” Asim said.

Trinity said the group had a couple other ideas as their project, but as they talked about ideas, they realized they could actually make this one work.

“We had a couple ideas about recycling medical waste and old electronics, but we realized this was something we actually could make work,” she said.

The group not only is making it a reality, but then re-enacted it as skit before judges at both their regional competition at Albion Middle School Jan. 16 and at the state contest.

Throughout the process, the team told judges how members realized their core values such as discovery, inclusion, integration and cooperation. They also developed skills, from teamwork and communication, and robotics skills. Masaki said he first learned how to build a robot from his teammates; then later, he created his own front wheel attachment. 

“My biggest role as a coach is to have them realize what needs to be done and organize them,” said Annie Drennan, who advised the team along with Emre Gul and Lorie Mauer. “By the end of it, they were making lists of what to do, deciding which is most important and figuring out how to get everything done. They took all their energy and channeled it to become an efficient team, and natural leaders emerged who directed their teammates to work together and have fun.”

Asim agreed. 

“I learned that it’s not just a robot game as I thought before I joined the team,” Asim said. “It’s a much better program where we build upon each others’ ideas and share what we learn.”