Students construct cross-contamination fighting robot for competition

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) - Students at Harrisburg Middle School have just over one week to get ready for the Arkansas First Lego League State Championship.

On February 25, 32 teams will compete at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock where Harrisburg middle-schoolers will demonstrate their Lego invention--a robot that prevents food cross-contamination.

As part of the 2011 Food Factor Challenge, students ages 9 -14 research and develop ways to keep food safe.

Harrisburg Instructional Technologist Michael Graham says this is a tremendous opportunity for the children.

"The competition is set up around three parts: it's teamwork and mutual respect for the other team members, it's a robotics competition, and a research project."

Teams will be awarded points upon completion of each mission.

"Farming a cornfield or taking fish out of the ocean. So they have to do that responsively."

Graham feels that the kids have learned so much more than what you would in a normal classroom environment.

a few students are even seeking patent protection after developing a product that separates food and prevents cross-contamination at the grocery store.

"Seventy-two percent of all grocery carts in most stores are contaminated with fecal matter."

Those students are in a national contest for best invention.

If the Harrisburg group wins, engineers will team up with them as they make their product come to life.

"We've been working since September. We had a qualification match in December, which we qualified for the state tournament."

Identifying a problem, coming up with new ideas, and then seeing how that works in reality.

All this to inspire students to embrace and participate in science and technology.

"They have that time after school to contact professionals in the field, research how to build and engineer these robots and program them."

More info regarding the Harrisburg Middle School team can be found here.

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