By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Five sixth-grade elves from the Dr. John C. Page Elementary School recently delivered an early holiday gift to support local senior citizens.
The boys, all members of the First Lego League, delivered a check for $341.25 to Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley in Lawrence last Wednesday.
They raised the funds by holding a bake sale in front of the West Newbury Foodmart during Thanksgiving week. They also carried groceries to the cars of patrons coming out of the store.
“This community service is part of the team’s solution to promote the well-being of elders in our community,” said Sue Hersey, whose son Matt is a member of First Lego League (FLL) . Other members of the team include Teddy Hitchcock, Ryan Smith, James Vesta and Jason Young.
First Lego League is a robotics program for children ages 9 to 16 years old. As part of the club’s annual challenge, teams create an innovative solution to a problem they have identified and researched. In an adjunct part of the challenge, the teams create an autonomous robot out of Legos and gain points by running it on a thematic playing surface. Over 20,000 FLL teams exist in over 70 countries world-wide.
The FLL teams also raise funds, create a team identity and go on field trips, Hersey said.
The five boys — who named their team “RoboStorm” — began meeting in September. As part of their challenge, the boys identified and researched issues within the senior citizen community for which they might be able to help find a solution. They interviewed professionals in the field of elder care, conducted research online and eventually developed the system requirements for a touch screen application to assist seniors in managing their medication and nutrition and improving their levels of social interaction.
Last Wednesday they shared their project results with case managers and administrators at Elder Services and presented them with a check from the bake sale proceeds. The funds will be used to help purchase shower bars, medication and utilities as needed.
Following the presentation, Teddy Hitchcock said he enjoyed the experience of trying to “sell” their idea for the touch screen application at the Elder Services board meeting.
For Matt Hersey, “helping to raise money for the elders so that they can get things they need” was a highlight.
“It’s really eye-opening to see that a couple of kids can make elders’ lives better,” said Jason Young.
Tomorrow, RoboStorm will join other FLL teams at a tournament at Worcester Polytechnic Institute held to showcase all these budding scientists, researchers and engineers have learned over the past several months.