Sharon Elementary School’s robotics team is heading to the FIRST LEGO League World competition in Houston, Texas in April to represent Georgia and show off their skills.
The Sharon Robo Knights is made up of 10- and 11-year-old students. They earned the trip to the international competition after beating out more than 460 other teams placing first in the state competition held at the University of Georgia earlier this month.
The FIRST LEGO League is an international competition where team coach Wendy Wing said students ages 9-16 compete to solve real-world problems to improve the future, while also building and coding robots.
Each year, the competition has a different theme; this year’s focuses on issues related to generating, storing, distributing and using energy. On top of an innovative project to solve these issues, students are judged on their core values, robot design and how their robots perform in robot runs, an event where their robots must complete as many “missions” as possible in 2.5 minutes.
“The team is selected in the spring of the previous school year and then they work all summer and practice every morning,” Wing said. “The kids put in hundreds and hundreds of hours to get to this point.”
During much of that time, the students also worked on their innovative project for the competition, researching better ways to generate energy and build infrastructure for electric vehicles.
“They came up with the solution of the solar highway, which uses solar panels alongside of the highway and magnetized concrete that would wirelessly charge EVs while they are driving down the interstate,” Wing said. “So they’re not tied down [and it solves issues with] range anxiety and running out of power.”
They even factored in a possible loss in state taxes gathered from the sale of gasoline, suggesting that the solar highway be used as part of Georgia’s Peach Pass system where users would have to pay a fee to use it.
Wing explained this idea and the students’ research was not done solely for the competition. She and the kids recently went to the state Capitol where they presented it in front of the transportation committee with the hope that the state will eventually implement the plan.
“They put their heart and soul into it, and it shows when they’re presenting,” Wing said.
That passion is a huge reason why Wing said she and her team of students are excited to be moving on to the world competition in Houston from April 19-22. They will be the only team from Georgia competing against other students from across the nation and world.
“It’s something very few kids get to experience, so the kids are extremely lucky and they’ve worked very hard for it,” Wing said. “It’s amazing.”