Collinsville Lego robotics team to compete at state meet

News-DemocratJanuary 14, 2014 

The Lego League at Holy Cross Lutheran School in Collinsville will compete at the state competition Saturday in Champaign.

The competition involves several aspects: core values, technical, research and table challenge. The team works on core values throughout the season. At competition, team members go into a room with judges who watch how well they work as a team and use those core values to do a project.

Technical involves the design of the robot including attachments and programming. This year's theme is Nature's Fury. Students had to research a natural disaster and come up with a product to solve a problem associated with this disaster.

During the table challenge, each team receives a Lego kit that team members use to build challenges and obstacles. Students designed and programmed their robots to complete as many missions as possible on the table or mat, based on the year's theme.

Lego League, a team of sixth-through-eighth graders, was started by parent and coach Lisa Faulders last year.

Holy Cross also has a league for children fifth-through-eighth grade, which is coached by Bill Brown, Cindy Klein-Webb and helper Chris Wren.

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Public schools in Columbia participated in a mock shooting demonstration Tuesday to highlight the capabilities of new technology called SchoolGuard. SchoolGuard aims to help schools and law enforcement provide a extra protection in the event of a shooter.

School districts purchase SchoolGuard, so teachers and school staff can download the application to their mobile phones. In the event of an active shooting, a teacher can press the panic button provided in the app, which immediately sends an alert to the mobile phones of on- and off- duty federal, state and local law enforcement officers in close proximity to the school. The app simultaneously speed dials 911 and connects teachers to emergency services.

For more information, visit www.schoolguard.com.

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Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon urged state leaders to overhaul the way schools are funded in Illinois during the final hearing of the Education Funding Advisory Committee Monday in Waterloo. Simon said the current formula hurts rural and high-poverty districts and should be changed before the 2014-15 school year.

Simon recommended several changes, including a cap on the state payments made to offset property taxes and the merging of transportation funds into the primary funding formula. She also asked the committee to tackle "proration," or the way the state handles payments when funding falls short. Districts that rely most heavily on state dollars should be cut at a lower rate than those who rely least on state funds, she said.

"The proration inequity has contributed to financial instability in districts across the state, and is most visible in North Chicago and East St. Louis. We will see more districts in jeopardy if we continue on our current path," she said.

The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to examine the state's education funding system and propose a system that provides adequate, equitable, transparent and accountable distribution of funds to school districts that will prepare students for achievement and success after high school. The Advisory Committee is composed of eight members appointed by the Senate president and the Senate minority leader.

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U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, recently announced his nominations to the military service academies. The Congressman nominates, and then the academies themselves make the final determination whether a nominee receives an appointment to attend that academy.

The four military academies that require Congressional nominations are: United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.; United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.; United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.; and United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y.

Shimkus nominees include the following metro-east students: Zachary Auer of Collinsville; Zachary Bell of Trenton; Grant Camillo of Highland; Connor Cunningham of Edwardsville; and Spencer Murphy of Highland.

High school juniors, college students, or current members of the military who are residents of the 15th District and wish to attend an academy beginning in 2015 can request a nomination packet by writing Congressman John Shimkus, 15 Professional Park Drive, Maryville, IL 62062.

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East St. Louis School District 189 will hold a Key Communicator Network meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 27 in the board room at the Board of Education building. Individuals can submit topics of discussion to Kimberly Roberson at kimberly.roberson@estl189.com. Agenda items for the meeting include a district update from Superintendent Arthur Culver. Dinner will be provided.

Do you have an item for Education Matters or an education-related story tip? We want to know about it. Send your ideas to Jamie Forsythe at education@bnd.com or call 618-239-2562. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BND_JForsythe.

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