Shirland School robotics team wins global competition


"Frederick," a remote -control message system, was created by middle school robotics team at Shirland School. The team placed first in the Sphero World Robotics competition.

The Shirland Strong Sphero Warriors robotic team recently competed in the 2022 Sphero Global Challenge. This year’s theme was "Heroes Among Us."

The Shirland Middle School team competed in three events, as opposed to just one event last year. Two hundred fifty students from five countries were represented, leading to a live, virtual championship on April 26, 2022.

The Shirland teams were led by math and science teacher Hannah Pals.

“Our Little Bits team had to create a wearable device to help first responders. The team created a voice recognition, hands-free flashlight to help any first responder work in the dark,” Pals said.

“That was their invention just to get into the final. They had a completely different prompt to respond to during the finals.”

Pals said the RVR (programmable mobile robot) team created Frederick, a remote-control message system, and an invention that would help an invisible “inventor” communicate with the team. The robot was eight inches long and six inches wide.

Teagan Way, a middle school student at Shirland School, works on the Sphero Robotics project that resulted in his team winning first place in the 2022 global competition. Classmates Adel Lewis, Cora Whiteman, Aubrey Carlson, Olivia Story, Evan Brust and Angel Zarate were on the winning team.

Pals said the missions were difficult. “They included inventing movable robotic arms to move debris piles or rescue items.”

A lot of engineering and coding was needed in order to complete the task. “Students had to work together. They persevered and learned a lot.”

The Bolt team were required to program a Sphero Bolt to sense their surroundings and react appropriately to the amount of light, if it was falling off the object or crashing into cups.

Shirland’s team didn’t get first in any individual event. However, they participated in every event with Sphero, earning them first place overall in the final competition.

Sphero is a robotics company that is focused on working with schools to help teachers bring 21st century skills into the classroom. The company makes many educational toys and robots, Sphero Bolts, RVR, and Little Bits among them.

Students participating in the competition were 8th graders Teagan Way, Adel Lewis and Cora Whiteman, and 7th grade students Aubrey Carlson, Olivia Story, Evan Brust and Angel Zarate.

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