SWFL students complete Trash Trek

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-16 22:36:29-05
LEE COUNTY, FLA.- Students ages 9 to 16 from across Southwest Florida exploring the world of trash in a whole new way. Nineteen teams taking part of a Trash Trek challenge at Cypress Lakes Middle School earlier today. 
Robotics coach, Benta Brauer, says students aren't just talkin' trash, they're cleaning it up.
"Students have to identify and research the problem they're assigned," Brauer said. "They're looking for new ways to take care of our trash."
Each team taking part of the Trash Trek Challenge has been working since the beginning of the school year researching a problem, coming up with a plan of attack, and building a robot out of Lego's to showcase the process.
A process Brauer says is critical for the future of the world.
"Chairs, tables, notebooks, all of it has an engineer," Brauer said. "There's some kind of designer behind it figuring out exactly how it needs to be put together. Every industry has its engineers and its more important now than ever to get these kids get started early."
Each robot is uniquely designed and programmed and is put to the test on a tournament board.
"The robot has to complete as many tasks as it can in two and a half minutes," Brauer said. "We have a project and innovation that has to be presented to judges that's something brand new that will help with the problem."
Students are also judged on how well they work together and technical skills with building their robot. The designs are meant to help find new ways to take care of trash, from collection to sorting, smart production, and reuse. 
A challenge parents, like Cynthia Duragan, says is glad this generation of students are learning.
"You hear people say kids are always watching TV or video games, but there's a sizeable group out there that's really intelligent that's working hard to make our future be bright,"Duragan said. "This is that group."
This is the first Lego League in Southwest Florida covering the area of North Tampa down to Naples. Organizers say church and home school groups can also start teams and be part of the Lego League Robotics Challenge.