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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2007
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Daily photo by Bayne Hughes
Oak Park Middle School robotics team members Trey Keown and Sarah Grace Mitchell set up their Lego MindStorm robot for a demonstration. The team used the robot in the First Lego League's Alabama State Tournament.

Oak Park spirit earns award
Banano Puddin's compete in
Lego MindStorm competition

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

The Oak Park Middle School robotics team went a little bananas — and apples — to continue its success at the annual Lego MindStorm competition.

Oak Park won a first place for the third straight year at the First Lego League Alabama State Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Liberty Middle School in Madison. The award was in the Spirit competition.

Thirty-one teams participated, including Julian Harris Elementary.

The theme was nanotechnology, which deals with microscopic machines capable of manipulating matter at the atomic level.

The students called themselves the Banano Puddin's, a name they selected because they like bananas and apples. One of the group's sponsors was Apple Lane Farms. Nucor Steel and Huntsville Association of Technical Societies were also sponsors.

The students researched how nanotechnology could be put into pesticides to enhance the growth of bananas and aid in saving rain forests.

The team used the Lego MindStorm robotics kit, which comes with three motors, touch and light sensors, wheels, and everything needed to build a robot. It also includes software that allows the students to program the robot to move and respond to its sensors.

For example, team members Sarah Grace Mitchell and Trey Keown demonstrated how the robot rolls forward until its touch sensor tells it to stop and perform one of nine challenges. After the robot performs a task, it returns to home base.

Then, Keown could switch arms and change the robots' orders for its next challenge.

Each team produced a PowerPoint presentation. Banano Puddin's presentation covered the group's research into bananas production and how pesticides cause problems with the workers' skin. Galvin Gray dressed like a gorilla and Will Laughlin donned a banana outfit to impress the judges with their creativity and spirit.

Eighth-grader Joe Tutwiler said the group's idea was to create nanobeads containing a combination of nutrients and pesticides that would dissolve after being spread onto the plants.

Oak Park team members are eighth-graders Ryan Moriarity, William Orman and Tutwiler, and seventh-graders William Cole, Kitty Gray, Galvin Gray, Daniel Hopper, Laughlin, Peyton Littrell, Alex Lowry, Keown and Mitchell. Coaches are Martha Fish and Jim Anderson.

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