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Magnolia Students Rank in Top Half of Robotics Competition

Magnolia Elementary School’s first group of competitors ranked in the top half during their first time competing in the Lego League Challenge.

Magnolia Elementary School's robotics students returned from their competition on Dec. 3 at Woods Academy in Bethesda filled with enthusiasm, pride and the promise of pizza. They ranked seventh in the robot challenge out of the 15 Maryland schools that participated.

This was the first year Magnolia sent students to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League Challenge. A partnership between the FIRST Robotics Competition and the Lego Group, the challenge was for students from second to sixth grade to build car-like rolling Legos, programmed to complete an obstacle course-style game.

On the robotics portion of the competition, the students scored 108 points, and the winning score was 144. However, this was victory enough for the students because George Boyce, their instructor, promised them pizza if they could reach 100 points.

“They feel pretty proud of themselves,” Boyce said. “The other teams were confused why they started chanting ‘Pizza! Pizza!’”

Contestants were also judged on a creative presentation about food safety. The Magnolia students acted out skits and game shows about salmonella and the beef and poultry industry. Boyce said they scored well for their acting and presenting, although they should have made their presentations more in-depth.

Magnolia’s 30 robotics participants were divided into four groups, two of which competed on Saturday. The others are scheduled to compete on Jan. 7 at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel.

“Now that we know how these competitions go on, I can better coach them for next time,” Boyce said. “I hope we’ve learned enough for the second event. I think we can make it a goal to place.”

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