Hamilton elementary students impress city officials with Lego project

A team of Hamilton elementary students’ project using Lego toys has earned the praise of city and county officials.

The “Urban Legends” teams of Brookwood Elementary 5th and 6th graders recently were invited to present their latest project – a form of robotics through Lego pieces – on how the Butler County city might better handle the trains that pass through downtown, occasionally causing traffic backups.

The nine-member STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) team – composed of five girls and four boys – impressed the officials during the students’ meeting with officials.

“It’s the first time we’ve had more girls than boys on the team,” said Brookwood speech therapist Kristie Bunger, who volunteers as co-coach of the after-school First Lego League she founded six years ago.

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The students were invited to present their project, which involves using wireless communications, traffic signs and other devices to better alert drivers when freight trains are rolling through downtown Hamilton and blocking some streets.

Beyond the research and creation of a proposed plan, the twice-a-week team meetings are also serve as learning forums to enhance students’ cooperative and social interaction skills as well as adding to their knowledge and application of technology, said Bunger.

The team reached out to a mechanical engineer Miami University professor to aid them in putting together their project and other professionals in the community.

“It’s always good for kids to learn things outside their everyday education and let them get experiences with science and technology they wouldn’t come across in the general curriculum,” she said.

Joni Copas, spokeswoman for the 10,000-student Hamilton Schools, said “we always encourage and welcome our students learning from and collaborating with outside agencies, companies and local government officials.”

“The students enjoy hearing from the experts as they share their ideas with them which then help our students with their projects,” said Copas.

Fifth-grader Mackenzie O’Hara joined her school Lego team for the first time this school year and plans to be a part of it through her 6th grade.

“I love robotics so I thought this would fun to learn more about it and the type of engineering that comes along with it,” said O’Hara.

“I’ve always wanted to be an engineer,” she said.

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