Clear Lake Elementary’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics team 12857, the Salty Cats, spent weeks gearing up for its first competition of the season, the Robocat Rumble, where the team earned the “core values” award last weekend.
In honor of the FLL’s 2017-18 theme, HYDRO DYNAMICS, the Salty Cats have been working on a research project since June in which they were challenged to learn all about water – how it’s transported, used and disposed of.
FLL is a program created by the FIRST organization, which introduces younger students to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FIRST LEGO League teams must also research a real-world problem and are challenged to develop a solution.
They also must design, build and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS, then compete on a table-top playing field.
For their research project, the Salty Cats turned their focus to the potential health hazards, which could be caused by chlorinated pools.
The students spent several hours researching the topic, toured the Great Lakes Athletic Club in Orion Township and Splash! Swim School in Oxford, and spoke with a local pool experts in support of their project.
Through their research, the Salty Cats told this reporter they have learned that chlorine in pools for extended periods can cause dry skin, red eyes, lung injuries and cancer.
A search of the internet revealed that there is a wide division of opinions on whether swimming in chlorinated pools can cause cancer or other health problems.
Not only can chlorinated pools be harmful to one’s health, according to the Salty Cats, but they are also more costly than other pool options.
“I learned chlorine pools cost a lot,” said Molly Antoniou. “Saltwater pools also cost a lot in the beginning but, as you go on, saltwater pools aren’t that expensive (compared to) chlorine pools,”
The Salty Cats recommend swimming in pools disinfected by saltwater or ultraviolet (UV) light.
The team presented its findings at a regional qualifying event for FLL teams, also referred to locally as The Robocat Rumble.
The Clear Lake FLL team 12857 consists of fifth-graders Luke Lovely, Michael Rustoni, Jack Dysarz, Molly Antoniou, Dana Lee, Natasha Dysarz and Jenna Duong.
Along with completing their research project, the team designed, built and programmed a LEGO robot which completed several missions in a timed challenge during the Robocat Rumble.
At the Robocat Rumble, the team went head-to-head with eight other teams. Although the Salty Cats failed to qualify for FLL state competitions, the team earned the “core values” award, which recognizes the team’s display of key FLL values such as teamwork and friendly competition.
“Overall, it went well. I think the most important thing is that they learned a lot,” said Coach Debbie Duong. “They did a lot of research and they learned about chlorine pools. It was a great experience. I’m really proud of them and of their hard work.”