Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The road from Legos to engineering starts here

PORT RICHEY — When Christos Speros was a little boy, Legos were his favorite toy.

"I loved the way that you can build something from your imagination," said Christos, 15.

As a student at Bayonet Point Middle School, Christos, who wants to become a military engineer, learned that a robotics club was being founded at the school, and that the club would compete in a tournament that involved robots built with Lego parts.

"I said, 'Thank you God,' " he said.

Christos joined the Bayonet Point Middle robotics club, which last year won two honors at the first annual Robots At Rushe FLL (First LEGO League) Qualifying Tournament. In the Project Category, the Bayonet Point team Patriot Robots took first place and got the Rising Star Award.

Now a 10th-grader at River Ridge High School, Christos has returned to the school to mentor two new teams that stand among 16 competing in the tournament, which will take place Saturday at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O'Lakes.

Hosted by Brick Buddies, a nonprofit STEM organization for local students, the tournament will include Lego league students ages 9-14, grades 4-8. Using the theme Nature's Fury, these pupils will be challenged to research, build and program a Lego NXT Mindstorms robot to complete up to 22 Robot Missions. Winners will advance to regional and state tournaments.

"Brick Buddies is something I started in Pasco … when my own student, JD, was interested in robotics and none of the schools were offering such a program," said Brick Buddies founder and tournament director Shelley Kappeler. "We started an FLL team in our living room and have continued to help and support Pasco County schools starting competitive FLL programs."

The tournament will feature Pasco-based teams from Bayonet Point, Crews Lake, Rushe, Chasco middle and Academy at the Lakes.

In a recent work session, Bayonet Point team members programmed a Lego robot via a computer to perform tasks pertaining to emergency management in natural disasters, like moving miniature emergency vehicles, delivering supplies, and driving over obstacles.

"Just about every profession involves technology and engineering, from medicine to agriculture, computers to police work," said Bill Hamrick, technology teacher at Bayonet Point Middle. "They're learning the math, science and teamwork skills that will help them get these jobs."

Robotics club member Kira Babiarz, 13, a Bayonet Point eighth-grader, plans to become a pediatrician.

"I like technology, and I love working with little kids," she said.

Shon Woods, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, wants to be a mechanic.

"I used to take things apart and see how they work," he said. "Now I like to put things together."

And eighth-grader Jimmy Newman, 14, hopes to become a robotics engineer.

"Robotics is taking over the world," he said.

Also returning to the tournament are the two Lego league teams from Chasco Middle School — the Robotic Generation team and the Gigabotz team, which won the FLL Core Values Award last year.

Steven Burnley, director of technology at Academy at the Lakes, says the school will send two award-winning teams to the tournament this year in addition to hosting two high school STEM Club teams.

"Whether a kid's interest lies in engineering, construction or anything in between, they can find something to like about robotics," he said. "They can't learn these things in a textbook."

>>Fast facts

Brick Buddies

• Brick Buddies 2013 FLL Qualifying Tournament, Robots At Rushe, will take place Saturday at Charles S. Rushe Middle School, 18654 Mentmore Drive, Land O'Lakes. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m.; the tournament begins at 8:45 a.m.

• Brick Buddies, a nonprofit STEM organization, reaches out to youth who are interested in science and technology, software programming, mechanical engineering, etc. The organization also supports parents, teachers and coaches who want to start new teams in Jr. FLL, First LEGO League, or FTC. They are sponsored by the Raytheon Co., parent dues, donations and business support. For information or to become involved with Brick Buddies, contact [email protected], or visit brickbuddies.wordpress.com/robots-at-rushe or brickbuddies.org.

The road from Legos to engineering starts here 11/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 14, 2013 6:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  2. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  3. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  4. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  5. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.