Jill Gutmann Special to the Jewish News
Hillel Girl Scouts bring home innovation trophy.
Legos! I don’t like Legos,” Daria yelled to me (her mom) as I told her I signed her up for a Lego robotics team. I knew she would love building and creating with Legos if she just gave it a chance.
The Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan were offering full grants (covering competition costs and material costs) for teams willing to complete the First Lego League Junior project. It was such a wonderful offer, I hoped that other families of the Hillel Girl Scout Troop 76613 would also jump at the chance.
A group of five girls — Daria Gutmann of West Bloomfield, Addison Fleishman of Northville and Esther Matthies of Farmington Hills, all 6, and Eliana Mayerson, 7, and Addison’s big sister Elyse Fleishman, 8, of West Bloomfield decided to participate. The team met under the coaching of Rabbi Brent Gutmann of Temple Kol Ami and Benjamin Fleishman, an engineer at Ford.
The theme for the 2017-2018 season was the Aqua Adventure Challenge. The team studied their water’s journey and created a way to improve the journey and model it through building and programming a Lego model. The team named themselves the “Mayim Menches.”
Coach Ben explored water by walking them around his house and neighborhood. He showed them how water entered and left houses, exposed the girls to the storm drains and sanitary drains, and discussed where we get our water, how it is sanitized, utilized and wasted.
The team decided that bathroom sinks in homes waste lots of water (especially when brushing teeth) and chose to improve their function. Remembering that the sinks at Hillel have sensors, they decided to implement similar sensors in home sinks.
The students built a model that began with the Detroit River and showed the water’s journey into a bathroom sink. The key feature of their model was the bathroom with a large sink. Using the computer program and a sensor, when a Lego person’s hand moves up, the water (little blue balls) flow; when the hand is moved away, it stops. All the team members were Lego and programming novices, so there was a lot to learn and explore to complete the project.
On April 27, more than 15,000 students from across the world gathered at the Cobo Center to compete in the First Championship. This is the largest robotics competition in the world and attracts more than 40,000 attendees. The Mayim Menches competed with teams in their age group from places like South Korea, Austria, Venezuela, Russia, Taiwan and Canada.
The team had the chance to see the challenges other teams undertook and to interact with the other kids. The Mayim Menches loved giving out Hillel Day School pens and collecting buttons and swag from the other teams. They also enjoyed the maker fair and watching the high school teams compete in the First Championship.
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They left the championship winning medals and a Lego trophy for innovative programming. The Mayim Menches are already discussing competing in next year’s Lego competition with excitement and pride in what they were able to accomplish this year.