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Tournament of teamwork
Students tune skills through robotics
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Donohue, left, and Patrick Collins prepare their robot for a test run. - photo by Submitted


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The thought of being in school on a Saturday morning may make some students a little queasy.

That wasn’t the case Dec. 6 as more than 300 elementary and middle school students crowded the halls of South Forsyth High School for a robotic LEGO tournament.

It was the second annual event for the Forsyth Alliance, an umbrella robotics organization for county schools.

The FIRST LEGO League Robotics Tournament challenged students to design, construct and program a LEGO robot with a purpose.

But these pint-sized contraptions were built from more than red, black and yellow bricks. They were built on teamwork.

Just ask tournament director Rick Folea.

“This doesn’t work unless the students work together as a team,” he said, adding that Saturday’s tournament was a “great success.”

“We had a good turnout, and the kids were enthusiastic,” he said.

The 9- to 14-year-old students engaged in a four-part competition. They were judged for a research project, technical design review, teamwork and the robot competition itself.

Piney Grove Middle school student Mason Moreau said he had a good time.

“I’m a competitive person so I enjoyed doing this,” said the eighth-grader who also plays basketball at Piney Grove.

This was the second year competing for Moreau and fellow team member Saam Roodehchi, who said the group’s robot was designed to move items with a single, mechanical arm.

Liberty Middle School student Ty Koller said this was his first time at the event.

“It’s really fun,” said Koller as he and his stepfather, Robert Simpson, took a lunch break Saturday.

The tournament ran from early morning to late afternoon.

“The kids were full of energy all day long,” said Joni Owens, volunteer. “It was awesome. The kids exuded such excitement and enthusiasm.

“They really embraced the learning processes involved, and you could see all their hard work in what they created.”

FIRST stands for First For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

The event is one of seven robotics events in the county, including the VEX competition, in which robots play capture the flag.

E-mail Frank Reddy at