Grand County Middle School BEACON Afterschool Program’s “Gear Geeks” won the Robot Performance Award at the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition in Price on Jan. 28. Tambree Howard (left front) is pictured with Kayle Wagner, Nate Torres (middle row), Jacob Knight, Matthew Andrews (back row) and Isaac Ellison. [Photo courtesy of Joan Cannon]

Students from Grand County Middle School BEACON Afterschool Program “Gear Geeks” came through at the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition on Jan. 28, winning the Robot Performance Award.

The six-member team, which traveled to Price to compete with 11 other teams, also won a chance to compete at the Utah State Championship on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Weber State University.

Despite a disastrous final round, Gear Geeks were able to modify and program their robot “on the fly” and were able to beat their personal best with a score of 134, winning the Robot Game.

As part of the challenge, the teams must choose a problem and develop an innovative solution.

The theme this year was “Hydrodynamics.”

Students examined the safety of drinking water at the middle school, consulting experts, researching the problem and discovering that the water is safe.

The water was tested for coliform bacteria, copper and lead, and is of much higher quality than expected. The Gear Geeks spread the word to their fellow students by placing informative signs around the school and at the drinking fountains, touting the motto “Drink like a Deer.”

“This means that we should be like a deer, and always drink the best water available,” said Jacob Knight, whose role on the team is that of project manager and lead robot designer. “All of the water at school is safe, but the water at the drinking fountains is the best because it is filtered. Filtered water is more appealing and people drink more if it tastes good, which prevents dehydration, which can be dangerous.”

The students shared their solution with judges by writing and performing an original song that tells the story of their efforts to test the safety of the water. Besides performing the song and winning the Robot Game, the students participated in the Core Values Challenge, which is a way to display inclusion, cooperation and integration of the team. The Gear Geeks were noted for their display of “gracious professionalism” at the tournament.

“It is a great way for students to learn about STEM topics, problem solving and professional ethical conduct while having a lot of fun,” team coach Robert Magleby said.

Students from BEACON Afterschool have won trophies at the last four events and have competed at the State Level for the last two years.

“We look forward to upping our game even more and having a great time at the state tournament,” Magleby said.

GCMS students to compete at Weber State on Feb. 10