Evan Mackey, left, and teammate Timothy Heemstra compete in the Robot Game portion of the FIRST Lego League Peninsula Qualifier on Dec. 7 at Bainbridge Island High School. (Discovery 4-H)

Evan Mackey, left, and teammate Timothy Heemstra compete in the Robot Game portion of the FIRST Lego League Peninsula Qualifier on Dec. 7 at Bainbridge Island High School. (Discovery 4-H)

4-H Lego Robotics team heading to semi-finals

PORT TOWNSEND — The Discovery 4-H Howling Chickens Lego Robotics team is going to the state semi-finals for the third year in a row and is trying to raise funds to cover travel expenses.

Out of the 14 teams that competed in the FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) Lego League Peninsula Qualifier on Dec. 7 at Bainbridge Island High School, the Howling Chickens earned the Core Values award for the third year in a row and qualified for the semi-finals.

The teams at the competition are evaluated in three ways: an innovative research project presentation, programming their Lego robot to maneuver an obstacle course known as the “Robot Game” and core values.

“The Core Values award recognizes a team that excels across the inspiration, teamwork and gracious professionalism categories,” said Danell Mackey, Discovery 4-H Club leader and team coach.

“This team displays extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit, knows they can accomplish more together than they could as individuals, and shows each other and other teams respect at all times.”

Howling Chickens was required to come up with a solution to a problem in their community, as part of the theme City Shapers. They tackled potential problems when a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake hit, including the isolation the community will experience in the wake of a 9.0 quake, Mackey said.

The team’s solutions involved incorporating new technology, such as heavy lift drones to bring in supplies, evacuate injured people and bring emergency shelters to people in need, Mackey said.

The Howling Chickens team is comprised of six members aged 11 to 13: Timothy Heemstra, Evan Mackey, Oliver Banks, Johnny Black, Dominic Sabo and Zeke Banks.

The team is now raising $1,500 to attend the semi-finals in Seattle on Jan. 18-19. The money would cover travel expenses and additional equipment.

The team plans to stay in a hotel the night before, since the competition starts early, Mackey said.

“Each year we try to get a hotel room so the kids can stay the night before because they have to start at about 8 a.m.,” Mackey said. “So it’s nice to have them there.”

This is the last season for three of the team members, as they age out after this year.

“Everyone is just trying to put their best foot forward and perform really well,” Mackey said.

The team has spent $800 on the qualifier part of the competition, due to registration costs and other fees, and they have not yet had any donations for the $1,500 needed for the semi-finals, she said.

The team hasn’t had a fundraiser yet, but they are accepting donations.

“We’re still in recovery mode from last weekend,” Mackey said. “Us coaches are kinda spent right now.”

Mackey encourages those interested in donating to help the team to contact [email protected]


Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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