A team of Phoenix 5th-8th grade robotics students recently was named one of two winning teams selected to head to the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Houston on April 19 (www.firstlegoleague.org).

The all-girls team of arts students from downtown Phoenix charter school Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) competed against 96 teams in the Arizona State FIRST LEGO League Challenge hosted by the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering on Jan. 14-15. The competition encourages youth to think like scientists and engineers through problem solving and teamwork.

Members of the “Bee Inspired Team” from the Arizona School for the Arts who captured a win at the Arizona State FIRST LEGO League Challenge included, from left: eighth graders Amelia Luadtke and Molly Moody; sixth grader Imogen Dietz; fifth graders Ava Dewall and MaeYa Kotter; eighth grader Emma Scully; and Marissa De La Rosa, sixth grade (submitted photo).

As part of the challenge, the seven girls developed and constructed—using a laser cutter at CREATE at Arizona Science Center—a special box in which bees can build hives during swarming season. The purpose of the box is to provide an attractive place for bees to live instead of forming hives in people’s homes, where they are often exterminated.

The team also built a robot out of LEGOs and programmed it to complete tasks. The judges awarded the team members First Place based on their innovative projects as well as their collaboration and cooperation with competing teams.

“These students genuinely embody the spirit of gracious professionalism,” said Tracy Ryan, faculty mentor for the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Club at ASA. “They worked very hard and were incredibly inclusive.”

The winning “Bee Inspired Team” members are all performing arts students who are thriving in STEM areas. Among them is eighth grader Emma Scully, 14, of Phoenix, who plays the flute and piano, sings in the choir and also has an interest in studying chemical engineering in college.

“With our music, we do a lot of performances in front of crowds, so this experience really helped with the presentation portion of the competition,” Emma said.

“Most of these youth are not arts students when they come to ASA,” said Leah Fregulia, ASA Head of School and CEO. “They are immersed in the arts when they get here as part of their academics and 96 percent of them go on to college, while the remainder go on to arts-related programs and careers.”

For more information about Arizona School for the Arts, visit www.goasa.org.


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