A team of six students from Linda Vista Adventist Elementary School in Oxnard, Calif., won a series of top awards on May 5 at the National Robotics Competition.
The Astro Falcons, a team of students ranging from grades five to eight, travelled to the Adventist Robotics League (ARL) National Championship at Forest Lake Academy in Orlando, Florida, where they tested their skills alongside 29 other teams.
The Linda Vista Astro Falcons won first in robot performance, first place in robot design, first place in project, and second place in core values. The team was then awarded the National Champions Award and received the ARL nomination for the Global Innovation Award—an award given based on a team’s project comprising six documents and a video, which, for this team, focused on ways to protect astronauts from radiation in outer space. “The Astro Falcons chose to address the issue of radiation exposure in long-term space travel,” said Heidi Pennock, a robotics coach at Linda Vista. “They came up with a new type of tile that covers a space craft with boron nitrate nanotubes to deflect 90% of solar radiation.”
Team captain for the Astro Falcons was Joseph Pennock, who graduated this June from Linda Vista Elementary. This was Joseph’s third year as team captain and his fourth year in robotics.
“Being in robotics was fun! My co-captain and I were able to keep everyone focused on the main goal,” said Pennock. “I’ve learned about computer design, project management, keeping things organized, leading people, and public speaking.”
Linda Vista started their robotics program in 2015. According to Anne Blech, co-coach and faculty sponsor for the school’s robotics teams, the program impacts students in significant ways.
“The students learn how to work together and listen to each other’s opinions,” she said. “They learn how to solve problems, and they create attachments and plan displays for the judges, such as core values, project, and robotic design.”
Heidi Pennock added, “All of these students have learned how to present an idea and speak to a panel of judges. It takes a lot of guts to present a project your very first time. They did it, and they did so well.”
Blech and Heidi Pennock watched the Astro Falcons team put in extra time each week into preparing for the competition. Though teams are only required to meet once a week, the Astro Falcons regularly chose to use free time and Sundays to practice and work on their project.
In addition to working hard on projects and practice, the team also worked on fundraisers in order to pay the airfare to participate in the ARL competition. They met their $8, 500 fundraising goal thanks to support from local churches.
In early May, Linda Vista Adventist Elementary School’s Astro Falcons team travelled to the Adventist Robotics League (ARL) National Championship, where they tested their skills alongside 29 other teams.
The Astro Falcons team included Joseph, Gilart, Grace, Bryanna, Hudson, and Janae.
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Linda Vista’s Astro Falcons received first place in robot performance, first place in robot design, first place in their project, and second place in core values at the ARL National Championship. Additionally, the team won the National Champions Award and the ARL nomination for the Global Innovation Award.