Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education as well as robotics have exploded in South Jersey over the past few years. In Moorestown Township Public Schools, STEM is highly valued, and the robotics teams have grown tremendously since their start three years ago.
However, there are no official robotics competitions being held in South Jersey.
The Moorestown High School FIRST Robotics Team, The Combustible Lemons, is taking action by hosting a FIRST LEGO League Scrimmage practice competition on Saturday, Nov. 14. The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at William Allen Middle School with a $1 entry fee. This is a first for MHS, helping to raise awareness of FIRST Robotics, promote STEM education and raise money for The Combustible Lemons.
“The Combustible Lemons would love for Moorestown people to come watch the scrimmage,” said Kathie Jim, head of the marking department of The Combustible Lemons.
“This will be a big win for Moorestown if we can pull this off. Anytime there is something beneficial and hugely educational that can benefit education and learning within the district at no cost, it is huge,” said Toni Farmer, marketing team mentor and FLL coach.
FLL is a division of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) that promotes STEM and robotics among children in elementary and middle school from ages 9 to 14. In the Moorestown area alone, there are many FLL teams, 11 of which will attend this scrimmage to test their robots and practice their presentations.
This scrimmage is the first of its kind in South Jersey, as there are no official FLL competitions in the area. Most are held in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The reason for this is robotics is new in the area; The Combustible Lemons have only been in Moorestown for three years.
However, FIRST Robotics has exploded in the area.
Because of the lack of competitions in South Jersey, Moorestown decided to host an unofficial scrimmage so the teams can practice their presentations and run their robots before the actual competition. The hope is Moorestown will be recognized by FIRST and may be one of the schools to host an official competition in South Jersey.
“Without a host organization in South Jersey to get behind FIRST Robotics and FLL, they just kept having us go to Delaware and Pennsylvania every year. Rowan University is going to be the center of the South Jersey region and they are looking closely at us. They’re watching our scrimmage here and helping us train, and we’re hoping that they will actually allow us to be an official FLL qualifier next year. It would be huge for the school,” Farmer said.
Registration for the scrimmage will start at 12:30 p.m. at WAMS. Teams will present their projects and also do robot missions, as they would in a real competition. This year, the FIRST FLL theme is centered around trash and recycling. They come up with a project that has something to do with trash and recycling; and for their mission, they will have to accomplish different tasks centered around trash and recycling using a robot they have created made of LEGO pieces.
During the competition, there will be a lot of fun things to do while not competing. There are music, raffles, concessions, refreshments and more for participants and visitors. One of the big things that will be going on is the FLL tradition of line dancing.
“It is a rowdy, upbeat event. It isn’t what you’d expect from a bunch of smart kids into robots. It looks like a party. It is loud cheering like you would hear at a sporting event,” Farmer said.
Proceeds from the event will go toward The Combustible Lemons.
“STEM is the future, and that is what this event is spreading. We always say kids are the future, and they are going to be our engineers and scientists who will work to make our society better. So it is definitely good to support these kids and tell others about it,” Rebecca Rains said.