Robotics team raises awareness for plastic bag recycling

By: Mike Koury | Farmington Press | Published November 24, 2015

FARMINGTON — A group of Farmington elementary school children have teamed up to spread awareness about recycling plastic bags.

The group of kids, comprising students from Warner Upper Elementary School and Forest Elementary School, are part of a robotics team participating in the 2015 Trash Trek competition from the FIRST Lego League.

The competition is a series of challenges in which the students must select a cause — in this case, plastic bag recycling — and use the robot they built from Legos to help complete the tasks, such as using the robots to move a toy animal safely away from a trash bag, then moving that bag to the correct area. This is done while competing against another team.

Travis Smart, 10, is one of the members of the team and a student at Warner Upper Elementary. He said one of the reasons why the group chose plastic bag recycling is that the bags take 300 years to break down in landfills.

“There are so many problems with plastic bags,” he said. “There’s like only 3 percent of plastic bags in the entire world that are (recycled).”

Smart said the group meets twice a week to discuss the competition, and they have set up bins in both schools and are asking everyone to recycle their bags. 

Smart’s mother, Karen Smart, acts as a parent advisor for the group. She said the team will head to a competition match Dec. 5 at West Hills Middle School in West Bloomfield, and what they’re doing now helps them earn points for the contest.

Karen Smart said she and other parents might help in terms of coming up with topics for the kids, but they’ve done the research on plastic bags and how to recycle them.

“It’s very impressive that they — these fourth- and fifth-graders — are doing this,” she said.

In talking about the project, Travis Smart said trying to improve the community makes him feel happy and important through the work the team is doing.

“We’re actually doing pretty well,” he said. “We’re making a lot of progress on our mission.”