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Homeschoolers FLL Robotics Team from the Quakertown PA area earns major win-- heading to international competition!
Allison Janney, homeschool student, 2/26/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Over the years I've heard from many homeschool groups taking part in the First Lego League Robotics program-- and all have been incredibly grateful for this unique experience.  I was delighted to hear of the wonderful experience of this team from the Quakertown PA region in the eastern part of the state-- and to see their grateful hearts as they have worked together so very well as a team. I know we all wish them the best, and that they will be able to fund their team trip to the international competition this April 2012. 

If you don’t like long stories, we suggest skipping this. However, for the few readers that might still remain, we should add the disclaimer that although this is a long story, it is not quite long enough to count as one of your 25 books for the PHAA diploma English requirement. So if anyone is still interested in reading this, then we shall ask you to solve a math equation:  What does 8 homeschool kids + 1 robot equal?

In the fall of 2010, eight homeschooled teenagers formed an First Lego League robotics team and over the two seasons the team has been existence, we have really seen God at work. God brought the team together in less than twenty-four hours. Some of us had never met before.  God also provided all registration fees, robots, parts, pieces and many other things. Consequently, we picked Jireh, which in Hebrew means the Lord provides, as our team name.

robotics team pyramid.jpg

As an FLL team we must:  build and program an autonomous robot (If you don’t know what this means then, as a homeschooler, you should grab a dictionary!); research a real world problem in a specified area of science and come up with an innovative solution; and work well together as a team. Of course, being homeschooled, our moms quickly turned the research project into a unit study and we can all quite easily rattle off the summary of last year’s research.  “We aim to prevent medial epicondylar apophysitis using the principles of neuroplasticity and biofeedback.” This year the team chose something easier-- preventing food spoilage during a power outage by designing a refrigerator ice pack which utilizes UV-C pulse light and endothermic reactions.

Last season, through God’s grace, the team did very well (taking first at the local level and second at the regional level). Of course, since we were homeschooled, we were asked some rather interesting questions at the competitions, my favorite being, “Isn’t so nice that you get to get out and see people?” Yes, I know how it is, we spend all day in our pajamas, cruelly locked in a dark closet, without TV and…I’m off topic.

robot team 2 students.jpg

This season our team saw God move mountains. At the local event our team placed first but at regionals everything fell apart. Although the research and the team work judging sessions went well, the robot game just went horribly. The first match our light sensors stopped working and the second match our fully charged battery died. In robot scores, the team was just about last place. Quickly we changed batteries, attempted to fix the light sensors by shoving a tire in one and were frantically rewriting code when we were called up for our third and last round of the day. We knew we were going in with an untested battery, untested code, and light sensors that worked sporadically even if the tire stayed wedged in place. The team was on the competition floor and we were praying, “God, it’s up to you because there is no way this should work.” All too soon we were up.

Now, real quick, we should tell you that in the robot game our robot must be programmed to accomplish as many missions as possible in 150 seconds.  Each mission is worth a different amount of points.  We should also mention that when everything goes exactly according to the plan it takes our team 140-148 of those 150 seconds to complete all our missions.

The buzzer sounded and the robot jumped into action. Our first mission, the one that, by the way, had never failed us the entire season, failed. We were devastated; however, God was not done with our team. We sent the robot out to attempt to complete the next mission and on that run the light sensors began to work. Encouraged, we began to think that maybe we had a chance. Unfortunately, on our third mission run part of the robot fell off. Trying to be helpful, the referee took a piece of our robot off the competition area and put it in a basket to the side; we didn’t notice because we were getting other things ready to put on the robot. When the robot reached us, we realized that part of it was missing! We frantically looked around for the piece but when we found it, it was broken. Apparently the ref had accidently broken it! We quickly put it back together and then put it back on the robot for the last missions. We had lost precious seconds looking for and fixing the piece.

Somehow God managed to have the robot complete all the missions and in the time limit! God fought the battle for us and our team ended with the highest robot game score and we won first place overall. We are now heading to World Festival, an international event, where we will meet and compete with teams from all over the world. Yes, we realize that it may be hard for some to believe that eight “unsocialized” homeschoolers will be interacting with kids from around the world!  

Please pray for us. We want to take the Good News to the ends of the earth and the Lord is bringing the world to us. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of money to raise, about $10,000; but we are trusting that God will yet again provide.

On the back of our team tee shirts we have mountain being moved by a hand from heaven, a picture of our team’s verse “Faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain” (Matt. 17:20).  Inside the mountain is the verse “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says that Lord Almighty” (Zech 4:6) to remind us to Whom belongs the glory.  Please pray that our team will be able to go and, when we get there, that we will do our best, display Christ-like attitudes, and declare God’s name in all the earth.

Oh, the answer to the math equation.  Eight homeschooled kids plus one robot equals a lot of fun, a lot of work and a chance to go international.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And this is from a letter from the team, asking for support to meet their goal of going to the international competition:

Please help us to get the word out! After Competing in Kennett Square earlier this year (January 7, 2012), where team Jireh took first place in the qualifying rounds, they moved on to the Championship Tournament on Saturday, January 28. The team was once again awarded the first place trophies for Robot performance and the Champion’s Award at the University of Delaware Bob Carpenter Center. This award “measures how the children inspire and motivate others about the excitement of science and technology, solving problems,working as a team, and demonstrating respect, and gracious professionalism”. Team Jireh is a group of eight 12-15 year old home schooled students from Lower Saucon, Upper Saucon and Quakertown.The team has now been invited to compete on an international level against 85 other teams at the World Festival held in St. Louis, Missouri, from April 23rd-28th. This great honor has presented a new challenge: the need to raise $1000 by March 23 for the registration fee and approximately $8000 for transportation and lodging.

Any financial contribution, no matter how small, will be appreciated. If you would like to contribute, please find the appropriate information at the bottom of this letter. Please note we are a group of Jr. and Sr. high students and do not have 501c status so donations are not tax deductible. All of our sponsors’ names will be prominently displayed in our pit area at the Edward Jones Dome when we compete in April.

Checks can be made out to: Jireh Robotics and sent to : 411 Fairview St., Coopersburg, PA 18036 .

This is one of the teams we are competing against. They took second place at World Festival last year.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIeJ1SXzgZo&feature=endscreen&NR=1Here is an idea of what World Festival is likehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYmzDkMva4Y


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