This Group Could Drive You Batty

Lego Team Places Second in State

Students Rand Ripple and Aiden Engvall during competition

In their first year of competition, team “Hey, Watch This!” brought home the silver. And for their classmates, that means a week of focus on all things batty.

The 10 Orchard View Elementary students took second place overall in the state-level Lego League competition. More than 400 First Lego League teams competed around the state this year.

The Build-up

The Orchard View team participated in a qualifying tournament at Grandville High School on Nov. 19, where they won first place for robot innovation and strategy, and first place for robot performance.

They advanced to compete at the Michigan FIRST Lego League Championship Tournament, held at Carman-Ainsworth Middle School in Flint on Dec. 10. The team came in second place out of 49 teams at the state championship tournament.

There were several teams from area Kent ISD schools at the two regional qualifying tournaments in Grandville and Grand Rapids. But Orchard View was the only Kent ISD member team to advance to and place in the state championship.

FIRST Lego League is an international competition for upper elementary students who compete and are judged in three areas: robot design, project, and core values, which included problem-solving and team-building.

Orchard View received a $1,500 grant from the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation to start the team this school year. For the competition, they designed and programmed a Lego robot to run specific missions outlined by the Lego League.

The team rehearses: from left are Natalie Mouw, Tessa Stanley, Nate Kelso, Matthew Harrelson and Kate Harrelson

It Takes a Village

This year’s theme was Animal Allies, so Orchard View’s team conducted research on bats and interviewed bat conservation experts from Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and the Bat Zone at the Cranbrook Institute of Science. Additional support and funding came from the school’s PTO.

Sixth-grade teacher and team coach Anne Keller said their project included the development of “Bat Week” at school to educate students about the benefits of bats and bat conservation. They also created an original stop motion Lego movie about bat conservation.

As part of the project, the team also received a grant from River City Wild Ones to create a bat garden and will install bat houses on school grounds in the spring.

Parent Ryan Harrelson also served as a coach.

CONNECT

FIRST Lego League

SNN article on formation of Lego Leagues

River City Wild Ones

Team “Hey, Watch This!” was (front row, from left) Kelsey Pattison, Rand Ripple, Aiden Engvall, Nate Kelso, Tessa Stanley and Kate Harrelson; (back row, from left) Matthew Harrelson, Josh Carlson, Coach Anne Keller, Natalie Mouw, Nora Rumery and coach Ryan Harrelson
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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