Education Foundation of Harris County sets venue for future leaders as students conquer environmental challenges with Lego Mindstorm robots
Twelve teams of Harris County students from Channelview, Cypress, Humble, New Caney and southwest Houston vie for top titles, scholarships and prizes in the All-Earth Ecobot Challenge April 13, from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Harris County Department of Education, 6300 Irvington Blvd., Houston, Texas.
Best media opportunities during competition: 9:30-11 a.m. and 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Students in fifth through eighth grade use Lego Mindstorm robots and computers to execute complex ecoscience and environmental awareness tasks. Schools, teachers and coaches in the All- Earth Ecobot Challenge provide students with tools for the competition: the Lego kits, laptop computers, and software and practice pieces.
Ecobot Challenge engages students in working with complex technology computer programming, problem-solving, critical thinking, building and operating autonomous robots, and practicing teamwork—skills needed in an increasingly technological and global-driven workforce.
The competition is hosted for a fifth year by the Education Foundation of Harris County with a lunchtime career presentation sponsored by Cole Chemical with visiting engineers from Foster Wheeler USA.
“The All-Earth Ecobot Challenge opens students’ minds to futures in our region’s industries and accelerates networking to the advantage of future generations,” said Douglas Kleiner, CEO of the Education Foundation of Harris County. Schools, youth groups, scout troops, or any other professional organization are eligible to participate in the All-Earth Ecobot Challenge.
About 1,000 students competed in preliminary events at Channelview and Humble earlier this year. The top six teams from each event compete in the final Bot-Off. Districts represented include Channelview, Cypress-Fairbanks, Humble, New Caney, and YES Prep Charter Gulfton.
The 2013 All-Earth Ecobot Challenge utilizes Lego Mindstorm robots to explore “marvelous ecoscopic science.” Through competitive and exploratory learning, robots are the avenue of education delivery for students as they develop skills with applicable physics, complex technology, higher-order engineering, complex math and computer programming. The common denominator is ecoscience and environmental awareness.
“The Ecobot missions tie directly to real-world workforce and the workplace reality in our region – exciting the kids about their futures here in Texas, even as they experience first-hand how useful and applicable knowledge is and how good they are at manipulating information materials,” said Douglas Kleiner, CEO of the Education Foundation of Harris County.
The traditional team competition begins at 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Following three rounds, students are scrambled and regrouped with new team members for a “Bot-Off” round which challenges students with a unique environmental task. The activity encourages problem-solving skills while encouraging networking and collaboration.
“Members must design, build and re-program their robots to complete a new mission successfully in a limited amount of time,” said Kleiner.
Teams competing are from the following schools listed with their sponsoring teachers:
Channelview—Alice Johnson Junior High, teacher Joe Paneitz; YES Prep Gulfton Charter School, teacher Diana Wu; Cypress-Fairbanks—Salyards Middle School, teachers Shanen Hajkik and Terry Burris; Smith Middle, teacher Doreen Jarvis; Humble—Elm Grove Elementary, teacher Alisa Cancino; Humble Elementary, teacher Peggy Mensik; Pine Forest Elementary, teacher Janette Ferranti; Shadow Forest Elementary, teacher Lori Shortis; Summerwood Elementary, teacher Kristin Bryan; Timbers Elementary, teacher Stacey Ward ; New Caney—Keefer Crossing Middle, teacher Mary Beth Marceaux
For more information about the All Earth Ecobot Challenge, go to www.efhc.org .