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First Lego League at Round Elementary School in Manassas competes at state level

Nine fourth grade students at Round Elementary School in Manassas competed in the regional competition for the First Lego League at Osbourn Park High School on Nov. 4 and received the opportunity to move on to the state competition at James Madison University on Dec. 2- 3.

It is the first time a First Lego League team from Manassas City Public Schools has moved onto the state level, according to Scott Baldwin, principal of Round Elementary School.

Dena Caracciolo teaches STEM at the school and coaches the fourth-grade students who participate in First Lego League, along with Trish Reeves, a teacher’s assistant with pre-kindergarten students.

The students meet after school twice a week. They had to hit the ground running; therefore, the students were selected as third graders, and their first meeting was held on the first day of school.

Students were chosen for the group based on their ability to work together and their problem-solving skills and is based on teacher recommendation. They must adhere to First Lego League’s CORE values which are to participate as a team, find solutions with guidance, learn together, honor the spirit of friendly competition, discovery is more important than winning, share the experience with others, display “cooperation” and have fun.

The team was visited by two engineers from the Army Corps of Engineers, Dr. Tyson Vaughan and Dr. Pamela Colley, who helped them problem solve their topic: How to reduce water loss in the aqueducts in California.

Caracciolo says they originally wanted to move flood waters from Houston to help with wildfires in California. The engineers helped them by questioning their methods and pointing out some issues they may have in their formulations.

The students present their problem and solution to judges in a private setting and have five minutes to do so. They must produce a mission board and design a robot to perform tasks.

Caracciolo and Reeves are very proud of their group of students. Since they are all fourth graders, the Round Elementary team is the youngest group in the competition.  Students in the level 1 group may be up to age 12.

The team members told the Manassas Observer that there were many groups involved at the regional competition including others from Manassas City Elementary Schools, schools from Leesburg, Sterling, homeschool groups and many others.

The students have a lot of fun and even carry swag bags with the opportunity to trade little trinkets with other students from other schools and get to know them and chat with them.

They call themselves the “Waccoons,” which is a play on their project and Round Elementary’s school mascot.

Teams that win at the state competition at James Madison University had the opportunity to move on to World competition in St. Louis. The Round “Waccoons”  expected to be competing against about 100 teams at James Madison.

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