Two Washington youths advance to state finals

Published 2:08 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Staff Writer

Two Washington students who are involved in a 4-H robotics club won a competition last weekend in Jacksonville and will go on to the North Carolina state competition.
The 4-H club, based in Greenville, is participating in the FIRST LEGO League program and possibly its worldwide robotics championship at the end of January.
Addie Randall is mother of the two Washington students, Camin Randall-Peangmeth, 10, and Jetsun Randall-Peangmeth, 12, who are involved with the LEGO robotics program with their team, Titanium Cranium.
“They absolutely love it,” she said. “They have so much fun doing it and get really involved in it.”
The robots are made by LEGO. Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, came up with the idea for the LEGO robotics teams and challenges.
Kamen’s vision for the program is “to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”
For students, ages 6 through 18, it’s been said to be the hardest fun they’ll ever have, according to the program’s website.
According to the website,, LEGO’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills that inspire innovation and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication and leadership.
FIRST, (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,) the program the students are involved with, was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology and help improve the innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.
Randall said eight children are on the team. They use their laptops and other sources of technology to create a better robot. The teams are responsible for designing, building and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams.
“The actual LEGOS come into play when the kids make additions to their robot,” Randall said. “Such as building a LEGO arm for their robot. Everything is really dynamic.”
She said there are three or four different robots the children work on and 12 different challenges to each competition.
Referred to as, “a varsity sport for the mind,” the LEGO League combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology.
“This year, the teams are instructed to give a presentation about a portion of the body,” Randall said. “And they chose the tongue.”
There are seven teams in eastern North Carolina that competed in the competition in Jacksonville. Camin and Jetsun’s team meets in Greenville twice a week.
The teams have to complete 12 challenges and give a presentation for every competition.
Because Camin and Jetsun’s team won the N.C. Eastern Regional Championship for grades 4-8, it moves to the state competition Jan. 29 in Greensboro. The team’s other members are Aaron Rappleyea, Emma Christensen, Cassie Suedbeck, Cecelia Suedbeck, Alina Suedbeck and Sam Christensen.
There are close to 150 scholarship opportunities the 4-H members may apply for, with most of merit-based. They vary from $1,000 to full four-year tuition scholarships, and they are usually for specific colleges or university.
According to FIRST, many colleges, universities, professional associations and corporations offer college scholarships to high-school students on FIRST teams.
FIRST LEGO League’s goal is to get children excited about science and math. It encourages formation of new teams for children ages 9 to 14. Anyone interested in starting a team should visit