Cascia Hall Students Tackle Hydrodynamics Challenge

For Fall 2017's First Lego League robotics competition, the Jr. Commandobots tested the quality of Tulsa's water.


Cascia Hall’s Jr. Commandobots used Fall 2017’s First Lego League (FLL) robotics competition as an opportunity to test the quality of Tulsa’s water.

Each year, FLL teams are tasked with researching a real-world issue such as recycling or energy, developing a solution and sharing that solution with others. The students must design, build and program a robot and compete on a tabletop field.

Compared to previous competitions, this year’s theme was fairly broad: hydrodynamics. The middle-school Commandobots collected water samples from across Cascia Hall and tested for chlorine, turbidity and pH.

Distributed by the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority’s (TMUA) water treatment plant, some of the water that they collected was cited as tasting unusual. Upon visiting the plant, the team discovered that the issue was not with the water itself, but rather the cleanliness of the faucet filter and pipes at the water’s destination.

In turn, the students learned that they could improve their water quality by cleaning their filters with a toothbrush. Unwilling to keep this advice to itself, the team invited the Tulsa community at large to participate their #onelastbrush Instagram challenge.

“I actually went door-to-door in my neighborhood to try to get my neighbors to tell their friends and family members about it,” student Sophia Kelly said. “I just felt like they would want to know about it.”

The field trip also informed much of the design of the robot itself.

“With this year’s theme, you have to determine how water is used, treated, transported and conserved in a way in which it will get you to think about a problem we experience so that we can create an innovative solution for it,” said teacher Roxi Vincent. “So going to the treatment plant was the research behind what we needed to discover about water, and while we were there, the engineers were showing us how water is treated and then comes to us.”

The team qualified for the State Championships in December. Among 48 teams, the Jr. Commandobots ranked 15th in Robot Performance and first place in Core Values.

“To come in first for Core Values is to honor them for how well they work together,” Vincent said. “It was great to see how they embodied the FLL experience — how their work and their communication among each other accomplishes their goals with excellence and innovation. That’s what’s kind of delightful about this little team.”

For many of the students, the competition has provided lessons and experiences that are being applied outside of the engineering room.

“The event was a good bonding experience for our team,” said student Victoria Soranno. “After each robot performance round, we were forced to go to the pit and discuss our next steps. We had to put our heads together in order to determine what the problem was and the best way to execute a solution.”

For more information regarding the Jr. Commandobot’s research, as well as how to improve your water quality, visit the Instagram account @chmsrobotics.

Categories: Education: Middle and High School