First Lego League robotics team, The Flying Chickens, from Annapolis, MD, edged out more than 72 other teams who had advanced from a field of 400 teams through 20 qualifiers, to win 2nd place during State Championships on February, 25, 2017 at UMBC in Catonsville, MD. This win advances the team to compete against 71 other teams at a National Championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at the end of May. The Flying Chickens are comprised of seven students attending Annapolis Area Christian School in 4th-7th grades. More than 30,000 teams compete world-wide with top finishers awarded the chance to compete on a national stage. The team is seeking financial assistance to make their trip a reality.
The Flying Chickens chose their name because they were aimed at solving a real world problem – bird strikes on airplanes. Large-diameter, compressed-air cannons are used to fire a standard-size cooking chicken to test the strength of aircraft fuselage and windshields, as well as the safety of jet engines. This test simulates the effect of an actual bird strike and why they choose this as their team name.
The First Lego League challenge this year was “Animal Allies.” Teams had to identify ways people and animals interact and design a solution that makes the interaction better. The Flying Chickens spent months researching bird strikes and their interest only grew after seeing the movie “Sully.” They have spent numerous hours researching the FAA’s Wildlife Hazard Management at Airports Manual for Airport Personnel and reading articles from Boeing, the United States Air Force, BBC News, and National Geographic. After researching, meeting, and touring with officials and experts from BWI and Dulles airports, the team had a much better understanding of how dangerous bird strikes can be to humans. The team began working on coming up with ideas about how to help stop – or reduce – the amount of bird strikes, and came up with two solutions which they presented to the airport experts.
In addition to solving a real world problem, teams must learn to work together as a team. think critically and develop presentation skills – all while applying science, engineering and math concepts. The Flying Chickens designed, built and programmed a Lego Mindstorms robot to perform autonomous missions on a playing field. The Flying Chickens won 1st Place in robot design at their qualifier in January.