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The City Journals

Beehive Academy wins third at world championship robot games

May 25, 2017 01:55PM ● By Kimberly Roach

Beehive Academy’s Beehive Robotics team took third place in the Robot Games at the world championships. (Beehive Academy of Science and Technology)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Most teams say “It was a fun FIRST Lego League season” by the end of January, and some teams, who advance to state, add, “It was successful.” By the end of February, Beehive Academy of Science and Technology’s Beehive Robotics team was still spending hours throughout March and into April in their classroom, adjusting their robot.
“We were adjusting it so we could get it to complete as many missions as possible,” said eighth-grader and returning team member Kaden Gordon. “The more missions we could do, the more points we’d get. We had it so we get it to do all of them but five points.”
Those long hours — Beehive Robotics Assistant Coach Laurie Mauer estimates she spent at least 34 hours per week leading up to competitions — ended up paying off. Beehive Robotics took third place out of the 109 teams competing in robot games at the world championships in Houston.
Joining Kaden were his eighth-grade teammates Austin Grant, Zack Nelson, Sam Gwynn, Gaireth Castleton and Moises Molina; seventh-grader Asim Kablan and ninth-grader Trinity Mauer, along with coaches Mauer and Annie Drennan.
FIRST Lego League isn’t about just building a Lego robot and programming it to complete missions. The competitions allow students from ages 9 to 14 to compete in core values where what the kids learn is more important than winning an innovative project and presentation, as well as the robot design and performance. Through the competition, students apply real-world math and science concepts, research challenges, learn critical thinking and work on team-building and presentation skills while having fun competing in tournaments.
This year about 32,000 teams participated worldwide, with Beehive Academy advancing from more than 300 teams across Utah after winning the northern state championship.
Kaden said Beehive Robotics was recognized for its innovative robot attachments in accomplishing its missions from various teams and judges.
“One of the judges said he really liked how our attachment was and we explained how it worked,” he said.
Asim said several coaches and teams came over to ask the team about it after their robot round.
“It was fun to tell them about it and see what ideas they had,” he said.
This is the highest finish Beehive Robotics has earned. Last year, the team won the state competition and participated in worlds, but did not place among the top finishers. 
Still, they could see room for improvement.
“We were running the robot consistently, getting more than 400 points, before we left (for worlds), but things happen and our highest score was 374 there,” Coach Drennan said. 
One of the things they’ve learned is how to recharge or have a second battery for their robot. After resolving a dispute in the first robot round, and not being able to touch their robot during that time period, they found their battery only half-charged for the upcoming rounds.
Even so, the team competed in all areas and was among the top in its core values and project, Zack said.
“A lot of people liked our creativity — our ways to approach problems both in the missions and with our project,” Sam added.
Tying their project to the FIRST Legos theme of “Animal Allies,” the team created the “Bee Safe” application after contacting several nurseries, Utah State University’s bee lab, Wasatch Beekeepers Association and others to learn that a lot of Varroa mites are attacking honeybees, weakening them and causing widespread wing virus that can lead to the death of a honeybee colony. The app, which the team members filed for a patent, identifies which plants are safe or harmful to the spreading of the Varroa mites.
“Many of the plants people plant in their gardens, so they are unaware of the harmful effects on the bee population,” Asim said. “Some places are now indicating which ones are bee friendly, but with the app, all that is needed is to scan the barcode of the plant for the information at any nursery.”
Austin said one judge was impressed with how it worked.
“He said it was really cool and that it was great work to have a patent,” he said, adding that hundreds of people, including the judge, had downloaded their app. 
In the midst of the competition, there was some fun, such as Beehive Robotics starting a conga dance line which other teams joined, as well as Clief Castleton, a father of one team member who coaches a FIRST robotics and tech team at Hillcrest High in Midvale, being named an honorary emcee.
Trinity said one of the highlights she’ll remember is interacting with other teams.
“We got to connect and talk to teams from other countries,” she said. “We became friends and learned from them.”
Moises said through the year, he enjoyed spending time with his teammates.
“We spent a lot of time together and worked together as a team,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work that has paid off, but it’s a lot of fun, too.”