Coronado Middle School students discovered a newfound passion for Robotics this year as they participated in First Lego League Robotics Competitions on teams led by head coach Roberta Lenert and assistant coach Kristi Walton. The teams had an extremely successful first year on the robotics circuit and concluded their season with each of the three teams bringing home trophies.
“I’m so proud of the CMS Robotics Team for all of their hard work, and I’m grateful for the dedication and outstanding coaching of Roberta Lenert,” said CMS Principal Karin Mellina. “Triton Tribe, Nado Bots and Robo Tritons had their first FLL (First Lego League) competition in November. Team Triton Tribe placed in the finals and went on to compete at Legoland. The team came home with a first-place trophy in Core Values. Core Values are the FLL fundamental elements where participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork”. She continued, “In February, Teams Robo Tritons and Nado Bots competed at Legoland. Both teams were awarded first place in Core Values and Robo Tritons placed 4th in Robot. Core values are the cornerstone of FLL.”
An overwhelming interest in Robotics was shown as 45 students applied for the team. Unable to turn any students away, Roberta Lenert enlisted the help of Kristi Walton, as well as five mentors specializing in Mechanical, Structural, Electrical and Aerospace Engineering and allowed all students to participate by creating three separate teams. They immediately began practicing at Roberta’s house through the summer focusing on coding, engineering, creative thinking, problem solving, public speaking, teamwork, and core values. Throughout the year the Robotics teams participated in events including one aboard the USS Midway, a qualifying competition held at High Tech High, the Regional Competition at Legoland and the So Cal Scrimmage at Legoland.
The growing interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has increased interest in Robotics programs around the country. STEM is a critical element to the curriculum at CMS. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have numerous STEM opportunities for our students,” said Mellina, “CMS offers two coding classes, an engineering course, hands on science labs and a wide range of integrated mathematics courses all within a robust, technology rich environment. All of the classes challenge students to apply real world concepts and use critical thinking skills and teamwork to solve problems. Robotics requires foundational and high level application skills that our students are prepared to take on.” She then praised; “Thanks to the donors of Coronado Schools Foundation who provide many of our STEM opportunities and robotics.”
The theme for the Robotics Club this year was Into Orbit and focused on space travel, challenging students to find solutions to problems that astronauts face in space. Roberta Lenert brought in experts to educate and inspire the teams including Astronaut Gerald P. Carr, two NASA Pilots, NASA Mechanical Engineer Pete Waydo, and Coronado’s very own Mayor Richard Bailey. She also took the teams on field trips to Naval Special Warfare Command where they learned about underwater submarine drones, airplane drones, 3D printing, and coding.
While CMS has had Robotics clubs in the past, it hasn’t had one since 2013. As rookie teams, Roberta had to start from scratch, creating a program from the ground up that both kept the students interested and made them competitive with more experienced teams from Southern California. “I knew Coronado students were missing something special and that if given the chance I could build a program for CMS. Miss Mellina agreed and was on board from day one. With CSF funding and support, I was able to create an engaging STEM lab filled with 3 competition tables, get EV3 Robots, recruit engineers, and purchase laptops, computers and tons of LEGOS!” And the results were astounding. “CMS Robotics had an amazing, successful rookie season and I am so proud of each and every student” Roberta said. “Their hard work and dedication paid off and I can’t wait ’til next year!”
The support from CSF, CMS Principal Karin Mellina, the Coronado Optimists Club, the U.S. NAVY, and CMS parents were all critical to this great success. As the season ends, the school is looking to the future, and has already begun planning a well-defined and funded program for next year.