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Robot made of Legos

November 29, 2010
Crystal Nelson

Two Girl Scout troops from Alpena will travel to Saginaw to participate in the Michigan First Lego League robotics competition Saturday. Juniors from troop 1000 and cadettes from troop 2056 have spent the past three months creating a robot out of Legos to be able to compete in the league and earn their robotics badge.

The girls have been meeting in instructor Deb Hautau's science classroom at Alpena Community College to program and practice with the robot. They currentlyare reworking and refining the robot's movements so it can complete an obstacle course in two minutes and 30 seconds. Hautau is overseeing the project as the team coach but cannot help them.

"They could pretty much design whatever they wanted. Everything has to be Legos, 100 percent official Legos," she said, adding the Girl Scouts did all the assembly and programming of the robot.

Article Photos

News Photo by Crystal Nelson
Girl Scouts Kim Neumann, Harley Hoeft, Ryele Janssen and Jessica Ranshaw get ready to test their Lego robot. The girls are in the process of reworking and refining the robot’s movements so they’re ready for the Michigan FIRST Lego League competition in Saginaw this Saturday. Megan Milostan is pictured in the background.

The Girl Scouts received the funding to purchase the robotics kit and Lego pieces from a Michigan Shore to Shore grant. They, along with another Girl Scout troop from Grand Rapids, will be competing against students in grades 4-8 from other schools and organizations. Saturday's competition is a qualifying tournament, and winners will advance to the Flint championship.

"It's fun, although when it gets up to the time that we're supposed to do the competition, I'm going to be freaked out," said Faith Pausits, who said she is afraid of being in front of crowds.

Megan Milostan said she didn't like the project at first but liked building the robot best.

Competing in robotics is only half of the competition. The girls also have to participate in a presentation and demonstrate teamwork. Since the theme of this year's competition is the human body, each team had to pick a part of the body, research a problem with it, and design an alternative method to treating it.

The Girl Scouts chose the ping-pong fracture, where a portion of a newborn and infant's skull has caved in due to birth, or the use of forceps during birth, but is not broken. In their skit, they use a plunger to fix their doll's ping-pong fracture, and each girl plays a part.

Cindy Ranshaw, leader of cadette Troop 2056, said many of the teams the Girl Scouts will be competing against have been in the FIRST Lego League competition before. She said the girls have to start somewhere and aren't afraid to try.

Crystal Nelson can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5693.



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