Friday, October 26, 2007

Warrenton BotBrains go 'green' at the library

A group of students recently completed an energy audit of Fauquier County Public Library's Warrenton branch as part of a regional competition that calls for teams to use robotics to understand and create solutions for one of today’s most critical environmental issues: energy management and conservation.
The competition is sponsored by FIRST LEGO League, an international program for 9- to 14-year-old children that was created in a partnership between the nonprofit organization FIRST and the toy maker The LEGO Group. FIRST LEGO issues a challenge each September to engage teams in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design.

Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO play materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to solve real-world challenges. This year's "Power Puzzle" challenge will culminate, after eight intense weeks, in high-energy sports-like tournaments where participants will demonstrate their solutions.

The Warrenton team, whose members are all home schooled boys calling themselves The BotBrains, has competed at FIRST LEGO League regional competitions for the last three years, advancing to state all three years in a row.

This year's BotBrains, with the help of library personnel and Fauquier County Director of General Services Tom Boyer, have completed an energy audit of the Warrenton Library to evaluate the building’s energy use. They are now working with experts to identify ways that the library might be able to reduce energy consumption or move toward alternative energy use and plan to present their ideas to the library board.

The group also attended a recent meeting of architects, civil and mechanical engineers, and representatives from the county's general services and library staffs to discuss plans for the proposed New Baltimore Library. The library's construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2008.

The BotBrains will go on to demonstrate their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship, and sense of community at the FIRST LEGO League Regional Competition on November 17, 2007, in Stafford, Va.