District 5 Hosts FIRST Lego League Competition
January 20, 2023
STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) knowledge was on full display by youth across the east Valley on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, as District 5 hosted a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League tournament. The tournament serves as a qualifier for the state tournament challenging 11 teams from across the east valley to compete for the Jan. 14 state competition.
In addition, St. Peter Indian Mission School and its Community partners and sponsors helped coordinate the event for the east valley schools. For many non-GRIC teams, this was their first time in a Native American community.
St. Peters was proud to host the tournament as it allowed the opportunity to showcase the Community, District 5, and celebrate its 100th year in GRIC.
Governor Stephen Roe Lewis addressed everyone during lunch and welcomed visiting students and families. “Today is an exciting time for all of us where technology is going to be a driver for our children’s education and this event makes STEM fun. And events like this will make sure that our youth are well-placed and prepared for the future,” said Gov. Lewis.
Lt. Gov. Monica Antone also shared remarks at lunch and said, “I’m so proud of all the students here today including our students from the Community competing, you’ve all worked so hard, dedicated so much time and weekends for this day, so it’s great to see our future engineers put everything they learned to use.”
The FIRST Lego League tournament challenges teams to design, build, and program robots to perform autonomous tasks focused on the “mission.” Each team robot must attempt to complete as many “missions” as possible within two-and-a-half minutes.
In addition to the robotics competition, each team must provide a presentation in front of judges demonstrating their mission knowledge, research, coding, and teamwork from the last six months leading up to the qualifier.
Each year a new “mission” tasks every team to focus on a theme during their season. This year the mission was “Super Power.” The term referred to electric power and allowed teams to learn more about current sources of electric power, alternative energy sources like solar and wind, and how their communities can utilize innovative ways of powering homes and city power grids.
St. Peter Indian Mission School and the Boys & Girls Club Gila River-Komatke Branch were among the teams that competed that day.
Neither team scored enough points to advance, but St. Peter Indian Mission School’s “enFORCEment” team took home the Innovation Project Award for the students’ presentation that day.
The St. Peters student’s presentation highlighted the Community’s current P-MIP irrigation systems. Also, it showcased an innovative approach to harnessing solar energy, similar to the GRIC solar-covered canal project.
Ms. Kinnamon from St. Peter Indian Mission School has taught science in the Community for over 30 years. She remains steadfast in encouraging GRIC youth to pursue STEM education and careers.
“Our [GRIC] youth are more than capable of being successful in these competitions are in the STEM fields because our kids are smart,” said Kinnamon.
Her dream is for GRIC to have five to seven FIRST Lego League teams and host GRIC competitions before facing off against outside Valley schools.
That dream may be a reality thanks to the support of Anna Perkash and her non-profit organization “Education Empowers.” Perkash has donated the FIRST Lego league robot, practice tables, and mission mat for schools. Her organizational contributions have allowed St. Peters and the Boys and Girls Club Gila River- Komatke Branch to prepare as soon as the season started.
Special recognition was given to Perkash during the day for her dedication to STEM education, and she was gifted a blanket with O’otham designs during the lunch break for her continued support for GRIC youth.