On the Bay

Girls - and Robots - Run the World

The Bay View Academy all-girl robotics team will put their programming skills to the test on the national level

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For only the second time, an all-girls team has won the FIRST Lego League State Championship, and is headed to the big leagues. Ten middle school students from Bay View Academy in East Providence defeated 39 teams from across Rhode Island, gaining them a spot at the International FIRST Lego League World Festival in St. Louis on April 26.

The FIRST Lego League challenges over 255,000 participants across 88 countries to find solutions to real-world scientific topics. Using LEGO Mindstorm technology, students design, build, test and program a robot in attempts to resolve the theme of the year. S.M.A.R.T 2.0, the team who won the state competition in January, will head to a four-day tournament to put their innovative ideas to the ultimate test.

Responding to this year’s “Animal Allies” theme, S.M.A.R.T 2.0 developed a mobile app that could close communication gaps between blind users and their service animals, allowing for more freedom and independence. A vest that receives direction indicators from the app would be used much like a car blinker, enhancing a service dog’s route accuracy. Using three strategically placed sensors, vibration signals would cue the companion on where to go based on GPS.

“It is our hope that if the judges like the idea, and the team is awarded for this innovative idea then we can find a sponsor or grant funding to make this a reality,” Coach Linda Grasso explains. The St. Louis competition not only offers recognition for these bright and enthusiastic students, but provides the possibility to improve the quality of life for an entire community.