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NATCO Helps Sponsor Flippin LEGO League Team
April 2003

Flippin team headed to the national LEGO League finals
Flippin team headed to the national LEGO League finals
Members and coaches of the Flippin Middle School FIRST LEGO League team, the Cleanup Crew, have made it to the finals of the national robotics competition, to be held in Houston on April 11-12. Team members in the front row (from left) are: Amy Schmidt, Lucas Casey, Troy Schmidt, Stehvin Butcher, and David Dunfee; second row (from left): Shawn Curtis, Michael Leonard, Cody Dennis, Jordan Dennis, and J.C. Stillwell; in back: coaches Mike Dennis, Keith Schmidt, and Roger Leonard. Coach Dianne Wade is not pictured.

Dr. Steven G. Sanders, president of NATCO Communications, has become a sponsor of The Cleanup Crew, the junior robotics team from Flippin, by donating $500 toward the team's travel to the national FIRST LEGO League competition in Houston, Texas, April 11-12. Flippin's team is one of only 25 invited out of 2,600 teams that have competed this year, said Roger Leonard, a team coach. The goal of this robotics program is to give children the opportunity to discover how exciting and rewarding science and technology can be, he said.

To make it to the national competition, the Flippin Middle School team won a Director's Award at the North Texas State LEGO League Robotics tournament in Dallas. The national championship for their junior robotics event will be held in the Astrodome in conjunction with the high school robotics championship. "FIRST" is an acronym for the sponsoring foundation named For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

As a technology company executive, NATCO President Sanders said he is pleased to support the program that allows the younger students to use computer technology and robotics. NATCO has recently funded scholarships through its charitable foundation for college students in math, science, and technology studies at Arkansas State University Mountain Home.

The FIRST LEGO League teams build and program autonomous robots to meet a specified challenge for the year. Teams also research a world problem and prepare to present their solutions for a panel of judges. The robots are built from LEGOS, and students write programs on a computer that tells the robots where to go and what to do by turning on certain motors and controllers. The competition is held on a four-foot by eight-foot table and is a timed competition.

This is the first year Flippin took part, and Leonard said it was an incredible season for the rookie team of nine sixth-grade boys and one girl. Besides winning the Director's Award at North Texas, the Cleanup Crew also took a second place trophy for their research presentation.

The team was judged on robot performance, robot design, programming, research presentation, enthusiasm and teamwork. Team members are Stehvin Butcher, Lucas Casey, Shawn Curtis, Cody Dennis, Jordan Dennis, David Dunfee, Michael Leonard, Amy Schmidt, Troy Schmidt, and J.C. Stillwell.

The team is seeking support at this time to travel to Houston for the national competition. They estimate their travel budget for the team to be approximately $6,000. Anyone interested in helping may contact Roger Leonard at (870) 453-8257. Leonard said the Flippin school system and school board have shown tremendous support, and the team wants to raise a significant portion of the costs so it can give back to the program for the future. Additional parent and teacher coaches are Dianne Wade, Mike Dennis, and Keith Schmidt.
  

 
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