Carrollton Middle School “Boss Bots” FIRST® LEGO® League Team Wins Innovation Award for Its “Safety Sack”






Carrollton, GA, Jan. 22, 2014 — Little did the members of the Carrollton Middle School “Boss Bots” FIRST® LEGO® League team realize when they undertook this year’s project that they could potentially help 400 families be better prepared for disaster. Leveraging resources from the American Red Cross, the team’s nine students developed a “Safety Sack” to hold emergency supplies to help families in a disaster.


“On average, the American Red Cross responds to a disaster every nine minutes across the U.S., and our chapter responds to a disaster every other day,” said Jessica McFadden, Georgia Three Rivers Chapter disaster program manager. “The Boss Bots’ Safety Sack is a clever The Boss Bots return to Carrollton Middle School after winning the Innovation Award for their “Safety Sack” at the FIRST® LEGO® League regional competition on Dec. 6, 2013 in Griffin, GA. (L to R) Boss Bots Coach Meredith Harris, Chase McDaniel, Alice Szymkiewicz (floor), Makenna Walker, Barak Kizunga, Dale Drummond, Thomas Harris, Paige Blackmon, Thomas Svegl (floor), Andrew Bell and Coach Jason Sveglway for families to put together a disaster supplies kit to be better prepared for an emergency before it happens.”


At the FIRST® LEGO® League regional competition in Griffin, GA, on Dec. 6, 2013, the Boss Bots’ Safety Sack won the Innovative Solution Award, which “recognizes a team’s solution that is exceptionally well-considered and creative, with good potential to solve the problem researched.” This marks the third year in a row that the team has won this award.


The “Boss Bots” is a team of nine students from Carrollton Middle School who competed in the FIRST® LEGO® League, a global initiative to encourage students ages 9 - 14 to learn about science and engineering by programming an autonomous robot made of LEGOs®.


In addition to the robotics component, the students are also challenged to research a topic and develop an innovative solution for an associated problem. This academic year’s theme is Nature’s Fury.


As part of their research on natural disasters, the Boss Bots interviewed Jessica McFadden, disaster program manager from the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, the director of the Carroll County Emergency Management Agency, an insurance agent, and a supervisor with Carroll EMC. Not surprisingly, each expert stated that the biggest problem is that we simply aren’t prepared.


After brainstorming how to “solve” the lack of preparedness problem, the team developed a “Safety Sack.” The Boss Bots’ Safety Sack is an easy to carry vibrant red bag that has a list of Red Cross recommended emergency supplies, such as water, medication, flashlights and food, printed in white lettering on the front.


After instructing their peers how important it is to be prepared for disasters, the Boss Bots distributed their Safety Sacks to 370 students at Carrollton Middle School and to 30 students on a similar team they mentored in Anguilla. Students were encouraged to take the bag home, add the items on the list and place the bag in their emergency plan’s designated safe spot.


The team also created and disseminated a survey to quantify their impact on students’ preparedness. The student body completed the survey and then the team instructed their peers as to the importance of being prepared for disaster. After the educational piece was completed and the students attested to filling their Safety Sacks, the student body repeated the survey. Before the Boss Bots’ Safety Sacks were distributed only 20% of the students surveyed indicated that their families were prepared for a disaster. But afterward, all of students indicated they were more prepared and one home improved to more than 80% being prepared—quite a dramatic increase! 


“Simply amazing! To have such a young group of future leaders that have a desire to identify a void, seek out a solution, plan, and implement the solution is what we are all about at Carrollton Middle School,” said Dr. Andre Touchard, principal. “Not only did they effect change here where they live but globally as well. The Boss Bots have accomplished something that others live a lifetime trying to accomplish. These awesome students are well on their way to be very influential people in whatever career path they choose. We are very proud of them!"


The educational piece the Boss Bots created meets the 4th and 5th grade weather standard, and their lesson will be available for other teams/schools to use.


“We are so proud of the Boss Bots team for helping our communities prepare for disasters,” said McFadden. “It is wonderful to see these students playing an active role in improving our community’s disaster preparedness. Youth Preparedness Week brings focus to how important it is to teach young people about disaster preparedness. It is our hope that they will be better prepared as adults and that they will teach future generations.”


The Boss Bots’ achievement is also highlighted on the national American Red Cross blog.


For more information on how to prepare for emergencies, people can visit GA3RiversRedCross.org or contact Jessica McFadden at jessica.mcfadden@redcross.org or 706-884-5818.

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Location : CarrolltonGeorgiaGriffin