Viper Bots’ last hurrah?

This was my fourth season coaching an FLL team. This year all three Renaud girls were on the team: it was Jadzia’s fourth and final year, Ludi’s second, and Josie’s first.

The Viper Bots are a school-based team, so we begin when school begins in August at Vogt Elementary. After that, it’s a race to build and program our robot, research a project, and write a presentation by November. It is pretty exhausting.

The girls came up with a pretty cool project. The problem they investigated was growing plants in space so astronauts can eat fresh food. NASA has been testing hydroponic ways of doing this. The girls came up with what they believed might be an improvement: a spinning, wheel-shaped planter which would use centrifugal force to keep water from pooling on the roots of the plants. We visited the Challenger Center, submitted questions to NASA live chats, and eventually we visited local plant biologist Dr. Bethany Zolman at UMSL. They called their solution the “Spin and Grow”. They came up with a creative presentation which included Josie dressing up as an astronaut.

The 2018 incarnation of the Viper Bots’ robot “Viper Evie”

They also managed to build a robot that used two sensors we had never used before: the gyro and the color sensor. Josie and her teammate Nylah attended four programming sessions where they learned some more advanced technique. By the end, the robot was capable of (often) completing three missions in the robot challenge.

The qualifier competition had its own ups and downs. The robot did unexpected things, as it always does. But the girls bounced back: they kept programming during breaks between sessions, and the robot performed better in the second round.

Viper Bots receive their participation ribbons at the qualifier.

We didn’t win any prizes, but when we looked at our scoring rubrics afterward, the project had scored high. They were probably one of the top contenders for a project award. So close!

Since Ferguson-Florissant has decided to close Vogt Elementary next year, and since Jadzia and her friend Jossie are aging out of First Lego League, I’m not sure what will happen going forward.

As 8th graders, this was the final season for Jadzia and her friend Jossie in FLL. We’re grateful to Ms. Lauren at Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri for helping our team get started and for all her support over the years.

No matter what happens, it was a pleasure (most of the time) this year watching the team try new things, achieve goals, and just be awesome.

Jadzia on the air waves

As a member of Vogt Elementary’s chess club, Jadzia has had opportunities to be featured in stories about the “Your Move” chess program in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Here are a couple of her recent appearances:

“Crossing Continents” (BBC Radio 4)
Episode: Checkmate Me in St Louis

Ascension Health
Ascension Your Move Chess on YouTube

Ascension Your Move Chess, longer Viddler version

Chess Club: Grandmasters

What a big week we had. On Friday, Jadzia and fellow members of Vogt Elementary’s chess club were visited by grandmasters … and a ton of media. Here is her account of the day:

Jadzia plays chess against grandmaster Jennifer Shahade
Jadzia plays chess against grandmaster Jennifer Shahade

Once upon a time, Jadzia and some of her classmates went to the library. But, this was no ordinary library day. Two (well, more, but you’ll find out later) grandmasters were going to come. Cameras would cram each and every corner and spot, flashing on and off!

It was Grandmaster Friday.

Continue reading “Chess Club: Grandmasters”

Ferguson’s children: Our voice

Jadzia and her Vogt classmates pose for a photo in the bandshell at January-Wabash Park after the concert.
Jadzia and her Vogt schoolmates pose for a photo in the bandshell at January-Wabash Park after the concert.

Drums. Singing. Shakespeare. MLK.

What a great afternoon we had enjoying the artistry of Jadzia and other Ferguson kids!

The event was designed as a response to recent events in Ferguson and throughout St. Louis. Students from across the Ferguson-Florissant school district and neighboring districts sang, acted, and spoke in order to bring peace, joy and love through the arts.

Jadzia and a number of her Vogt schoolmates participated. Here is a video I made of some of the highlights:

Jadzia’s first Christmas program

Tonight Jadzia participated in the Vogt Elementary Christmas program. Here is her account of the night:

I liked singing on the risers. My songs were “’twas the night before Christmas,” “Ring those bells,” and “Hear those bells.”

I wore my new dress with a new sweater and a new hairstyle.

My Nanny and Grandpa came to the show.

I was on the top riser and I could see my family way in the back.

The end.