The Baylor School robotics partnered with TVA robotics to present a “Meet the Mayor” event on Saturday, Sept. 30, hosting students from Chattanooga FIRST LEGO League teams for a discussion with Baylor alumnus and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke ’86.
Mayor Berke addressed nearly 50 students in grades 4-8 from Baylor’s Middle School, Bright School, Rivermont Elementary School, Spring Creek Elementary, and Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts, who gathered in Baylor’s Weeks Science Building. Erin Woodrow, co-coach of the Baylor Middle School team, and Baylor’s Upper School robotics team members also helped host the event.
Baylor science instructor and robotics coach Dr. Mary Loveless said this year’s FLL Robotics theme is to “Build a Better Tomorrow Together,” with the goal of reshaping communities for the future. “One aspect of the challenge is for students to identify a design opportunity and come up with an innovative solution that addresses the needs of the community,” explained Loveless.
After sharing a brief overview of Chattanooga’s industrial history, the years of being called “America’s dirtiest city” by national media outlets, and the more recent renaissance of the riverfront area, Mayor Berke called their attention to Chattanooga’s current growth in downtown living, high paying jobs, and the city’s crowning achievement of being the first city in the country to offer up 1-gig per second internet speeds through the EPB fiber network. “I think in 2019, the most important thing we can do is be a city of creators,” said Berke, adding that innovation drives today’s U.S. economy. “I know each of you in this room are as talented as anyone, and our job is to help you feel the power you have.”
Following the mayor’s remarks, the students asked a range of questions on ways to make Chattanooga even greater, before breaking for lunch and work on the “Build a Better Tomorrow Together,” challenge as teams.
According to the FIRST LEGO League website, FIRST LEGO League is the most accessible, guided, global robotics competition, helping students and teachers to build a better future together. The program is built around theme-based challenges to engage elementary through high school students in research, problem solving, coding, and engineering. The program emphasizes teamwork, discovery, and innovation, and students emerge more confident, excited, and equipped with the skills they need in a changing workforce.
The Middle School team will compete in November in the qualifying regional competition for the Chattanooga and north Georgia areas.
Pictured below are (front row, left to right) sixth graders Wyatt McDaniel and Alexander Bailey; (back row, left to right) seventh grader Nolan Witt, eighth grader Redding Batt, Mayor Andy Berke '86, Middle School Head Jenn Lindsay, and science instructor and Middle School robotics coach Erin Woodrow.