A team of seven Fifth through Eighth grade robotics students was recently named one of two winning teams selected to head to the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Houston, Texas on April 19.

The all-girls team of arts students from downtown Phoenix charter school Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) competed against 96 teams in the Arizona State FIRST LEGO League Challenge hosted by the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering on Jan. 14-15. The competition encourages youth to think like scientists and engineers through problem-solving and teamwork.

As part of the challenge, the girls developed and constructed – using a laser cutter at CREATE at Arizona Science Center – a special box in which bees can build hives during swarming season. The purpose of the box is to provide an attractive place for bees to live instead of forming hives in people’s homes, where they are often exterminated.  The team also built a robot out of LEGOs and programmed it to complete tasks. The judges awarded the team first place based on their innovative projects as well as their collaboration and cooperation with competing teams.

“These students genuinely embody the spirit of gracious professionalism,” said Tracy Ryan, faculty mentor for the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Club at ASA. “They worked very hard and were incredibly inclusive.”

The winning “Bee Inspired Team” members are all performing arts students who are thriving in STEM areas. Among them is Eighth grader Emma Scully, 14, of Phoenix, who plays the flute and piano, sings in the choir and also has an interest in studying chemical engineering in college.

“With our music, we do a lot of performances in front of crowds, so this experience really helped with the presentation portion of the competition,” Emma said.

Arizona Science Center Chief Learning Officer Andi Fourlis, Ed.D. said she is proud of the girls’ success in the competition. The team worked with center staff at the CREATE maker space to build their boxes and practice for the event.

“It’s an inspiration of our mission coming to life,” Fourlis said. “Our mission is to engage, inspire and educate curious minds through science and The Bee Inspired Team collaborated with our staff to take that to a whole new level.”