Going for Gold: Martinsville robotics team wins state championship | News
MARTINSVILLE – For the first time in Martinsville Middle School’s history, a FIRST LEGO League team took home a first place trophy at the state level of competition.
Held over the weekend, 10 girls traveled to James Madison University in Harrisonburg where they battled against the best robotics teams in Virginia.
The overwhelming number of competitors was unlike anything Hayden Calfee had ever witnessed.
“At regionals, it was only a certain amount of teams from our region,” Calfee said. “At state, there was a ton of people. We had to hold hands to get through to somewhere else. It was really crowded.”
Going off of the ‘Hydro Dynamics’ competition theme, the Wondering Warriors presented both a robot that went through an obstacle course and showcased a creative solution to a water-based problem.
The robot, which the team started working on in August, faced a few issues on the course.
“Our obstacles that we had to face were getting everything ready and making sure things weren’t broken,” said Nadia Flores. “We had to fix our robot and we had to fix our programs.”
While the robot experienced a few glitches during the competition, the girls came prepared for their presentation.
The team tackled hydration and dehydration issues using a color-changing, boiled cabbage-based solution meant to be applied to a person’s lips like lipstick.
Purple at its base, the solution changes color based on the hydration level it detects. If a person’s dehydrated, the lipstick will turn pink. If a person is properly hydrated, the concoction will turn blue.
There is currently no product on the market like the lipstick the Martinsville Middle School girls invented.
Demonstrating the project to a panel of judges, the group received positive feedback.
“We showed them the skit and how it worked,” Nayti Patel said. “They said it’s a really cool project we have.”
One judge, a member of the military, said the product could be of service to those fighting for the country.
“The military judge said that they worked you so hard, people pass out because they’re so dehydrated,” Patel said. “He said, ‘We could use that in the military,’ and our product could help.”
On Sunday, the judges announced the winners of each stage of the competition. The Wondering Warriors waited with the other students to hear the verdict.
“Before they announced who won, they were talking about ‘reading your lips,’” Olivia Hankins said. “All of us looked at each other and we all started smiling.”
When the judges named the Wondering Warriors as the first place champions in the project category, the girls screamed for joy and ran to receive the trophy.
“We got a big LEGO trophy and everybody in the competition got a medal,” Kendra Gill said.
Ending the competition season on a high, the girls have now switched their focus to entering additional contests and getting their product out on the market.
“We’re working on a patent for the lipstick,” Natalie Loredo said.
“We’re in the first stages of actually getting (a patent),” A.J. Neaves said. “The city said they’d help us get one if we put in the work for it.”
Coaches Elizabeth Lynch and Julie Fisher are currently looking into submitting a video featuring the girls’ product in the Global Innovations challenge. Sponsored by the FIRST LEGO League, the competition is open to projects that appeared at the state level of competition. There’s a $20,000 prize for the winning team.
Still reveling in the girls’ win, Lynch expressed pride over the group’s accomplishment.
“I’m ecstatic,” Lynch said. “They’ve worked so, so hard and given so much trying to get everything together.”
Seeing the girls fulfill their state championship dreams touched Fisher.
“I actually cried when they won,” Fisher said.
Amie Knowles reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at