Three students from Saipan Seventh-day Adventist School will leave on Thursday to compete in the 10th Annual North Pacific Regional Robotics Challenge in Walla Walla, Washington. The event is set for April 10 at the Walla Walla Valley Academy in College Place.
The Adventist Robotics League and Walla Walla University’s Edward F. Cross School of Engineering is sponsoring the event in cooperation with the First Lego League and the Junior FLL.
Sixth grader Rannon Palacios and fifth graders Sion Park and Miles Timmons are the students traveling to Washington. Other members of the team, coached by Kindergarten teacher Melanie Strout, are Cory Lee and Harvey Zhang.
The annual robotics challenge gathers all Adventist schools in North America and the CNMI is part of the region. The Saipan SDA team will be competing against other students from fourth to eighth grades.
Strout said the team is expecting a lot of challenges especially since this would be their first time to compete. She has previously coached another Adventist-run school in Alaska that won the ARL nationals.
“They will be up against Big City kids, those who are from the rural areas. It is totally a different mindset there in the North Pacific. Hopefully, we could place in any of the several areas to be invited to the nationals,” added Strout.
She said that every year organizers have different topics and for this year it’s about trash and debris, where the students will also be making a presentation on their research of turning waste to energy. The presentation is also part of the judging.
“There are two parts of judging, in the morning they will answer questions from three judges about their robot design. In the afternoon, there’s a field where their robot will try to accomplish certain missions.”
The mission is all about recycling, the reuse and reduction of trash. Teams earn points in completing each mission and get deductions for failing to accomplish it.
Strout said that the competition helps students’ analytical thinking as they learn to appreciate engineering, science, technology, and mathematics.
“I’m just here to guide them, they do all the work and analyze the problems if ever their robots does not work or does not function properly,” said Strout, who added that Timmons is interested in engineering.
The team will head to Guam where they will take a flight to Honolulu and then to Seattle. They will stay for a few days in Seattle where they will visit some educational spots before driving to Walla Walla.
The ARL was formed in 2002 to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to students.