SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Thousands of plastic bricks and some crazy pizza people equaled a state championship for several local youths.
While it may sound like a joke, the Crazy Pizza People Lego robotics squad from Malow Junior High and Crissman Elementary topped some serious competition Dec. 1 in White Lake to earn a berth in the World Festival Tournament this April in St Louis.
“Their mission is to inspire young people to become technology leaders, and it involves them in a mentor-based program to build their science and engineering skills,” coach Pascal Roy said.
“When people hear ‘Lego,’ they think it’s just about the Lego. It’s not just about Lego; it’s a lot more than that.”
Team members include Crissman students Austin Motloch, Carter O’Donnell, Corey Reynolds, Katie Roy, Cheyenne Smith and Nicholas Tobin, along with Malow students Giovanni Pansera and Alex Roy. Pascal and Amy Roy coach the team.
“There are 20,000 teams around the world that compete in this challenge, and there are 100 out of 20,000 that get invited (to the World Festival),” Pascal Roy said. “And these guys are one of them. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The Crazy Pizza People topped 163 other teams in the state to win their World Festival tourney ticket, which included their region and state’s Grand Champion Award.
The Grand Champion Award is doled out to the squad that is tops in categories such as “project including research, solution and presentation”; “teamwork and gracious professionalism”; and “robot including mechanical design, programming, strategy and performance.”
The Crazy Pizza People’s research project that they are taking to the World Festival focuses on financial hardships faced by seniors following retirement.
The team developed a solution that involves retirement-savings education at the high school level, automatic enrollment for workers to place 10 percent of income into a retirement-savings program and instruction incentives for employees and employers to maintain 80 percent of the workforce saving at least 10 percent of their income for retirement.
“This year, I learned that it’s really important to start saving for retirement as soon as I start working,” Alex Roy said of what he’s taken away from his years with the Crazy Pizza People.
“I learned a lot of new skills,” Alex Roy added. “They include how to build a programmable robot; how to think creatively outside of the box; how to pick the best solution to a problem; that you need to have a plan and strategy when starting something new; time management; gracious professionalism; and, most important, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ These are things I use every day now.”
The team is seeking community support to compete at the World Festival. Expenses for eight team members with one parent each to attend this event are estimated to be more than $10,000. Gifts to the team are tax deductible and can be made by visiting www.crissmanle goleague.org.
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