Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill area students solving world’s water worries with Lego kits, technology

Local students tackle robotics and water issues at Lego event.

Students from the Fort Mill and Clover areas were at the First Lego League West State Championship held in the Upstate of South Carolina.
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Students from the Fort Mill and Clover areas were at the First Lego League West State Championship held in the Upstate of South Carolina.

While whirrs, clicks, beeps, and lots and lots of cheering could be heard at the First Lego League West State Championship held at Riverside High School Jan. 27, much of the event was serious business.

There were 48 teams on hand after being whittled down from 200 in district-level competition.

Included were teams from Clover and Oakridge middle schools with names like the Gremlins, Filtration Nation and Grease Busters, Gold Hill Elementary’s Hyperlink Hornets and a team of Fort Mill home schooled students calling themselves Hydro Thunder.

This year’s event was based on hydrodynamics, a branch of science concerned with forces acting on or exerted by fluids.

Each team was tasked with missions for their robot that they designed and built with Lego Mindstorms kits to complete on a tabletop playing field. They had three attempts to complete the mission with the best time being recorded.

Prior to the competition, each team had to explain its robot’s design and strategy to the judges and that presentation was incorporated into the team’s final results.

But this contest wasn’t just for robotic fun and games. The project part involved hydrodynamics and real world uses. Projects like FunFun Omi, a water filtration system, created by Clover and Oakridge middle school students could prove to be lifesavers.

Eighth grade student Sydney Jennings said the students brainstormed to come up with the idea. Jennings said the filtration system “will help people in countries like Guatemala that don’t have clean water and need water filters because they can die if it is not filtered.”

She noted FunFun Omi is a Nigerian language that translates in English – Nigeria’s official language – to “clean.” The system comes with a booklet that doesn’t need translating into any language because it contains step-by-step photos of how to set up and use it.

The FunFun Omi system works so well the students said they are looking to have it patented.

FunFun Omi has partnered with Pineville, N.C.’s Give and Teach, run by Reverends Carol and Mike Claypool to distribute the systems.

The Gold Hill Hyperlink Hornets’ project was called Drain Strain. The nine students that make up the Hyperlink Hornets came up with the idea after listening to Eric Rekitt, York County’s Public Works director, when he visited their school, they said.

Drain Strain is a unit that would be installed in storm drains to catch plastic waste that normally would end up in Lake Wylie. It requires the unit to be pulled out and cleaned then replaced.

Fort Mill’s Jackson Settle was part of the H2ydro Thunder team made up of seven home-schooled students. The team’s project, called the In-House H2ydro-Cycle, involved recycling a home’s gray water for various uses.

Gray water is recovered from baths, showers, sinks, washing machines and kitchen appliances. H2ydro Thunder’s system involves filtering gray water from these sources through four tanks in the home. Settle said they came up with the idea of recycling water for houses because “in Fort Mill especially there is a lot of new development going on. If we can get a contract with the developers we can install a system for thirty-two hundred dollars.”

Settle added the household expense savings from recycling water could easily offset the $3,200 cost.

The First Lego League Championship offered a fun setting while immersing students in science, technology, engineering and math and teamwork.