Bells Bearbots take the challenge

by | November 8, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: November 7, 2018 at 10:37 am

Destiny McMillan, Zachery Shaffer, Zachariah Ballew, Caleb Burgoon, Erick Guardado, Elizabeth Stephens and Bryona Drain arrived at Colleton Middle School early on Nov. 3.
The seven students arrived ready to represent Bells Elementary School in the Colleton Qualifier for First Lego League. The theme for this year’s competition is “Into Orbit.”
Their team, the BearBots, competed against 19 other teams, seeking to move on to the east state champions to be held in Charleston on Dec. 5.
Despite their best efforts, the team didn’t advance to the east state championship. Two Colleton County School District teams, the Smoky Stars from Colleton Middle School and Galactic Kid-ets! from Northside Elementary School will make that trip to Charleston.
Working under the leadership of their coaches and mentors — School Counselor Elaine Inabinett, First Grade Teacher Kawaii Elliott and Fifth Grade Teacher Melissa Hinton — the Bells students spent long hours afterschool preparing for the competition.
Along the way, the team had picked up an assistant coach, third-grader Reese Hiers. Hiers was participating in the afterschool program and was attracted to BearBots’ afterschool work.
Because he is 8, Hiers was not eligible to compete. But he said he has had lots of fun working with the team in an unofficial capacity and hopes to become a full-fledged member of next year’s team.
Reese was working the team’s booth, handing out badges to the members of other teams while the BearBots found a quiet corner of the middle school gym to practice the skit they used to present their problem-solving presentation.
The team chose finding a solution to two social problems associated with space travel: dysfunction among crewmembers and an inability to communicate with family and friends while on a lengthy mission to Mars.
They came up with HIMIC, a combination of the words human and mimic.
HIMIC, they explained to the judges viewing their presentation, was a set of holographic avatars.
One of those avatars would be a counselor who helps a crewmember work through a problem.
During the course of the training for the Mars mission, conversations between the members of the mission and their family and friends were recorded and used to track the movements, voice, speech patterns and mannerisms of the friends and family.
Then during the mission, if the mission team missed their friends and family, HIMIC could enable them to visit with avatars of their friends and family.

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