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Randolph Senior Leads Middle Schoolers in LEGO Robotics Competition

Davenport participant coaches first-ever robotics team from Jubilee Family Development Center

11/14/2008 2:10:53 PM


Wai Sze Cheung '09

LYNCHBURG — Some might think LEGOs are child’s play. Randolph senior Wai Sze Cheung, (Winncy) knows better — especially when the LEGOs are being used in robotics.

The economics and physics major has spent the semester leading the first ever robotics team from Lynchburg’s Jubilee Family Development Center. Jubilee is a nationally-recognized center for at-risk children in the heart of Lynchburg.

Robotics Team

Winncy is no stranger to robotic competitions. As an exchange student in an Atlanta high school, she joined a robotics team that won the rookie award at the regional For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition and competed at the championship level.

“I still remember telling myself that I had to be a coach for a robotics team one day to spread this joy to someone else,” she said.

With the help of Randolph’s Society of Physics Students and as part of her senior capstone project for the Susan F. Davenport Leadership Program, Winncy volunteered to head a robotics team at the Jubilee Center. The team of middle schoolers has met every Saturday since September preparing for the Nov. 15 competition.

“The most rewarding thing so far is to see how the kids grow and how the friendships have developed among the team,” Winncy said.

The team will compete against other 31 other Lynchburg-area teams during the Virginia FIRST LEGO League Lynchburg Regional Tournament. The Lynchburg tournament is sponsored by Central Virginia Community College, the Region 2000 Technology Council, Timberlake Christian School, and the Region 2000 Tech Prep Consortium.

The winner of that competition will go on to compete at a higher level. The FIRST LEGO League is a global program created to get kids excited about science and technology. Designed for students 9-14 years of age, the competition uses theme-based challenges to engage students in research, problem solving, and engineering. The cornerstones of the program are its core values, which emphasize the contributions of others, friendly sportsmanship, learning, and community involvement.

The team tests their robot

Each annual challenge has two parts, the project and the robot game. Working in teams of up to 10 students and guided by at least one adult coach, team members have about 10 weeks to Build an autonomous robot that will, in 2 minutes and 30 seconds, complete pre-designed missions, analyze, research, and invent a solution for a given assignment, and create a clever presentation about their solution to perform in front of a panel of judges

This year’s local tournament required team members to explore current and future climate conditions. The process provides students with experience in computer programming, mechanical design, problem solving and teamwork.

Winncy’s focus for her team was not revolved around simply winning the Lynchburg area competition.

“What is more important is to actually learn something throughout this experience and have fun,” she said. “That is also the most efficient way of getting kids interested in science.”

That community service is a crucial part of Randolph’s esteemed Susan F. Davenport Leadership Program. Winncy cultivated her love of engineering and robotics into the capstone project for this four-year leadership program. Davenport is designed to provide students a framework for their development as ethical leaders and contributo

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations


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