Congratulations to the Peabody FIRST Lego League Team, which won first place for their research project at the November competition in Richmond! The team consisted of Kes R., Ronak A., William M., Tristan O., and team coach Kathleen Olowin. They have worked very hard over the last several months, and were excited with the end result of their efforts.

The students were judged on core values (how they implement “gracious professionalism” and work together as a team), their robot design, and their research project–in addition to the robot matches on the playing field. The theme for this season was “Animal Allies”–how humans and animals interact with each other. For the project, they had to choose a human/animal interaction, research it, and come up with a solution to a problem or a way to make an already positive interaction (i.e.,: guide animals) even better. The kids chose the topic of bears invading people’s trashcans.

First they researched “bear proof” trash cans and found they were not only expensive but often not effective. They decided they wanted to create an inexpensive way to repel bears, that wouldn’t hurt the bear (no pepper spray). They emailed some questions to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro and found out that bears don’t like the smell of Pine Sol, Lysol or cider vinegar. They then came up with the idea of attaching a kitchen sponge to the lid of the trashcan and keeping it wet with one of the above substances. Bears would learn to stay away from the trash can.

The judges were very impressed with the thoroughness of their presentation and the examples of the substances on sponges (in Ziplock’s to avoid stinking up the rooms). They received an “exemplary” on every aspect of the judging rubric and were awarded first place in the project category at the competition’s end (there are awards for each of the judging areas plus the highest scoring teams in the robot game). Congratulations, team Peabody!