RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The St. Michael's Blue Dragons is a middle school Lego-robotics team - and it's kind of a big deal.
"We're the only team from Richmond, VA going to Detroit," said Harry, a student at St. Michaels, and member of the team. "And out of the 108 teams at the state tournament, we came in 2nd overall."
600 teams competed in the entire state.
"For us to be one of the teams going to Detroit is pretty special," Charlie, another student said.
The students crafted the robot coding, reached out to colleges themselves and partnered with local estuaries to create an environmental module for the robots.
"You're judged on the durability, the unique features of the robot and programming," Graham, one of the programmers said.
Each device is named after a teacher. And to say the feat is making faculty proud is an understatement
"They're kind of like rock stars - here they are on TV … These guys are like the big guys on campus for creating a robot in a science project," St. Michael's Head Master, Michael Turner said.
The team is also using this platform to honor a late Lego-lover.
The winning robot - "Cooper Abbott" - is named after a 9-year-old St. Michael's student who lost his battle to cancer last year.
Owen McDonald says he feels especially passionate about this.
"We know that he loved Legos, and we know that he had come to the middle school, he probably would have been on this team. So by naming our Lego robot cooper and wearing orange pins for the fight for leukemia at the competition, we'd be honoring him and his love for Legos," he said.
Owen is a 7th grader who's new to the school and didn't get to know Cooper well.
Even still, the boys are making connections that go beyond interlocking building blocks. They're living the school's mission, the headmaster says.
"We talk about academic instruction but also one that develops our Christian values like passion, empathy, acceptance, and these guys are doing that," Turner said.
The boys make up what is now the second-ever team from St. Michael's to make it this far in the competition. The FIRST Global Championship takes place April 25 to 28.
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