The talented, tenacious Govans Dragon Designers won the 2023 FIRST LEGO League Challenge Champions Award on February 11, 2023, at the Baltimore City qualifier.
Congratulations to the team’s three 5th graders and seven 4th graders and coach Lisa Nemeth, who teaches kindergarten at Govans Elementary School (GES). The school is one of six schools in the Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) network, Maryland’s oldest and largest operator of neighborhood conversion public charter schools in partnership with Baltimore City Schools.
The team, which meets as an afterschool program at GES, first competed in the 2023 Baltimore City Qualifier on February 11, earning a spot in the state competition. The Champions Award is given to the team that embodies the FIRST LEGO League Challenge experience by fully embracing the team’s Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in Robot Performance, Robot Design, and the Innovation Project.
GES’s Robotics program is in its 7th year, and that experience made a difference in this year’s team’s competitive advantage. Two of the 5th graders on the team were returning Robotics-team veterans and part of the 2022 Govans Designer Dragons team that won the 2022 citywide FIRST LEGO League Champion’s Award and the Global Innovation nomination.
This year’s team, guided by Ms. Nemeth, collaborated since last September to design and program a robot to complete the missions set forth by the competition. During the Qualifier and state competitions, each team had 2:30 minutes to complete as many missions as possible for points. The team was also judged on its Core Values, which include teamwork, inclusion, impact, fun, discovery, and innovation.
The Innovation Project portion of the competition requires each team to design an energy conservation prototype at its school. The GES team chose to create a proposed rooftop garden at the school as a way to further GES’s conservation efforts at its new building, built in 2021 as part of the 21st Century School Buildings program with City Schools.
“[In our prototype], the vegetables and fruit grown would be used in the cafeteria, and the garden itself would help insulate the building, which saves on energy costs,” says Ms. Nemeth. “The scraps and dead plants would be used to make compost that would eventually be used for planting new plants.”
GES’ Robotics program is an important element of the school’s innovative, hands-on, community-centered curriculum. “The First LEGO competition is great for students who want to build a career in the STEM field,” Ms. Nemeth explains. “Some of our former members have gone on to the Baltimore City Ingenuity Program. Students not only learn how to build robots and code them, they gain valuable skills in teamwork, how to include everyone, and how to recognize the strengths of all team members.”
Way to go, Govans Dragon Designers!