Team building

Starpoint students engineer success in Legos robotics competition.

Team building

Starpoint Pavers team members Tanner White and Josh Allen were cheered on during a trial run the day before the competition. Other members of the team are Chelsea Chase, Haleigh Ricks and Grant Slate. (Photo by Glen E. Ellman)

Team building

Starpoint students engineer success in Legos robotics competition.

It wasn’t just a war of wits, or robot versus robot. This was a battle of teamwork, design skills and coolness under fire.

“It was more intense than I anticipated, but it was fun once we got into it,” said Tanner White, 13, a member of the Starpoint School’s robotics team that recently nabbed two first places finishes in a weekend competition of more than 60 teams from North Texas and Oklahoma.

Not bad for their first try.

Sherry Oliver, a Starpoint teacher and the team’s coach, thought forming a Lego robotics team would be just the thing to help build engineering, creative-thinking and problem-solving skills while having a little fun.

Thanks to seed money from the Andrews Institute of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education and the Department of Engineering, the team got their start in September and spent countless hours working on their project — part of the international First Lego League program.

“I see the potential in these kids, they’re so bright and creative, but they don’t always see it in themselves,” said Oliver, a technology instructor at Starpoint, the College of Education’s laboratory school that serves elementary-age children who have learning disabilities and challenges.

“They went up against the best and brightest in Texas and whupped them,” Oliver added.
The team ranked first in Technical Design, which included the design and programming of the Lego robot, and also won the top prize for the Robotic Competition, which meant passing four rounds of preliminary competition before enduring a fast-paced and high-stress battle of head-to-head single elimination trials.

Oliver said the students were a bit intimidated by the sheer numbers of their competition and the 2,000-plus spectators who roared during the final round of competition, but the team managed to stayed calm in the chaos.

“It really helped that the whole school and their parents were here hollering and applauding them as they made their final preparations,” Oliver said. “That gave us a leg up.”
Being part of the team, dubbed the Starpoint Pavers, meant spending extra hours at the school, including weekends and holidays.

“I learned a lot about perseverance,” said Chelsea Chase, 12, who served as project manager of the team. “There were times when we wanted to give up, but we didn’t, and I’m glad.”

The students also gained experience in presentation skills during another part of the competition: They were asked to think of ways to prevent accidents when good Samaritans stopped to aid stranded motorists, then they had to present their ideas to College of Education faculty and students.

“We thought that having drivers carry a safety vest in their car would help them be seen better at night,” said Haleigh Ricks, 13. The team mailed their design ideas to major auto manufacturers and got positive feedback, she added.

The students hope to get invited to the next round of the First Lego League to be held in Atlanta in April.

On the Web:

Comment about this story at

Your comments are welcome


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.