The Redneck Robo Hobos of Haines participate in the FIRST Lego League tournament. (Photo courtesy of Patty Brown)

For the first time in years, the Haines School sent a team of students to compete in a FIRST Lego League tournament. KHNS’s Abbey Collins spoke to members of the team after the event and has this report.

Fourth and fifth graders from the Haines School traveled to Juneau for the robotics competition. Their task was three fold. To build and program a robot to compete in missions, investigate a solution to a problem, and follow core values as a team.

Their team name? The Redneck Robo Hobos of Haines.

Their skills were put to the test in a high energy, music-filled atmosphere.

“I honestly really enjoyed it,” says Jackson Cowart. “My whole life I’ve been playing with Legos. For a really – for as long as I remember.”

I caught up with him and other members of the team during recess on a school day.

“I honestly thought it was really fun riding on the ferry because I got to spend time with all my friends and I got to hang out with some of the Skagway team,” says Cowart.

Everyone on the team seemed to agree on that – their neighboring Skagway team is really good.

There’s a few other things they could agree on: It was fun, while difficult.

And, for the most part, that they followed the team building core values—things like having fun, working as a team, and finding solutions with guidance from coaches and mentors.

Team members have different experiences that brought them to Legos.

“My brother one day, he was playing with Bionicles,” says Bear Scott. “And I started to build them. I just started to hook onto that lego thing. And then I just got into legos. And that really helped me with robotics.”

“My dad is a carpenter,” says Hayden Jimenez. “He’s been doing construction most of his life. He showed me how it all works. He shows me the blueprints of stuff and a bunch of designing things. And it helped my learn how to design things.”

“Once I was in Portland and we – our neighbors, they were stuck out of their house,” says Alex Weerasinghe. “We helped them get in. One of them had this really cool robot. He showed me how it worked. It was really advanced and cool and it was kind of like this.”

“My dad is a mechanic so I had to help him learn how cars work and everything and how to do stuff,” says Jack Smith III.

To name just a few.

The theme of the competition was hydrodynamics. Coach Patty Brown says the team looked into solving the problem of a puddle on the school grounds that appears every time it rains.

“They were designing a way to solve it,” says Brown. “So the plan is to dig that out and put some rocks under it so it actually has sort of storage space.”

Now that the team is back up-and-running, Brown says they’re looking for more coaches and mentors for coming years.