RICHMOND, Va. — Sports typically aren't at the top of mind when one thinks of science. But don't tell that to the students on Team Clueless at Saint Bridget Middle School.
"The sports environment, working together as a team. The competition, that thrill, that adrenaline, to a STEM-minded kid," said Eric De Boer, an instructional technology specialist and one of the leaders of Team Clueless.
The squad is the only team from the Virginia and D.C. area to advance to the First Lego League World Championships, which will take place in Houston, Texas, this spring.
The 10-member team earned the highest robot score out of all 72 squads competing at the regional championships in December.
"The competition involves robots, where they have to build them out of Lego pieces entirely," De Boer said. "They have to build a robot to solve various missions on the board. They have two and half minutes to get as many points as possible."
"They can't touch the robot once it leaves home," he added. "They have to go and have it programmed to use different sensors, like a light sensor to follow a line or maybe it's going to use a touch sensor or an ultrasonic sensor to see how far away it is from an object."
The competition combines creative thinking with hands-on learning. It's a team effort for STEM vets and rookies.
"I get to create basically anything I want and do different types of projects with it, and it allows me to pursue different ideas I have and have the resources I need to get these ideas into action," said eighth-grader Langdon Tollet, a member of Team Clueless.
"I'm a coach and we're problem solving this together," De Boer said. "And we can work as a team to help solve the problem."
This story was originally published by Rob Cardwell on Scripps station WTVR in Richmond, Virginia.