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West Virginia robotics team headed to world championships, funds needed to sponsor trip


Mountain Messenger

LEWISBURG, W.Va. — A local robotics team is headed to the FIRST Robotics World Championship after competing at the state championships earlier this month. The Boa Constuctors FIRST LEGO League robotics team is a group of middle school aged kids from Union and the surrounding areas who build and program LEGO robots that then compete against other teams robots for points.

The Boa Constructors pose with their LEGO robot after earning a spot in the world championships. Pictured: Michael Fraley (left), Luke Jackson, Owen Jackson, Maegan Crawford, Kyleigh Weikle, Luke Fraley, Dr. Donald Trisel of FSU, Seana Sabol, and Grace McClure. (Not pictured: head coach Johna Jackson)
(Mountain Messenger photo)

LEGO robots that the team builds are made totally from scratch, with a computer chip “brick” acting as the brains that moves the robot. Students program the “brick” with a computer before constructing the robot. The robot must follow certain regulations and complete tasks, which earns the team points. Each teams gets two and a half minutes to complete as many tasks and possible, and therefore, earn as many points as possible.

“As coaches and mentors, we really do not do anything,” said Boa Constructors mentor Candy Sabol. “They do it all themselves. We basically just unlock the classroom and let them get to work.”

The robotics team also completes an educational presentation on a topic assigned to them. This season the theme was Hydro Dynamics, and the team decided to specifically focus on how leftover prescription medication can impact water.

The Boa Constructors dove right into their topic, going so far as to conduct a community survey in which they asked local residents if they knew how to properly dispose of leftover medicine, and the effect that flushing or dumping out prescriptions has on local water. Many people were surprised to hear of the impact this can have on the environment, so the Boa Constuctors referenced an FDA recommended method for safe medication disposal.

Worldwide, the FIRST LEGO league consists of over 32,000 teams, including around 255,000 total participants, from 32 countries. According to their website, the FIRST LEGO league “challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the Hydro Dynamics season, teams will choose and solve a real-world problem in the Project. They will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under the FIRST LEGO League signature set of core values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and gracious professionalism.”

The world championships will be held this spring in Detroit, MI, with around 10,000 kids from all over the world attending to compete. Those wishing to support the team’s trip can donate at They are one of only 108 teams invited to the championships this year. The estimated cost for transportation, lodging, etc. for the entire team is roughly $15,000. Donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated! Visit the team’s Facebook page at for updates and more information.

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