Blizzard Boys share robotics project with Mayor Arakawa

From left, the Molokai Blizzard Boys: Kapahu Chow, Erik Svetin, Noah Keanini, Caele Manley and Gus Lodise. (Team member Kai Kalani was not present.) Discussing the team project with Mayor Alan Arakawa is Kimberly Svetin, STEM and robotics volunteer.

The Molokai Blizzard Boys’ robotics team presented Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa with a project idea last Thursday that could save both energy and food — two items that are essential to the sustainability of Molokai.

Mayor Arakawa came to Kaunakakai for his “County on Your Corner” program, an informal public meeting to share and gather ideas. After listening to a litany of complaints against the Molokai Humane Society, Arakawa seemed pleased to turn his attention toward the boys who had patiently waited their turn.

Five of the six boys on the team stood in front of the room at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center to share their First Lego League experience. The boys, ages 9 to 13, spoke into the microphone about what attracted them to robotics, what they hope to do when they grow up and what are their favorite foods.

Yes, robots and food do mix. The Blizzard Boys go to Maui on Nov. 5 for an FLL competition with the theme “Food Factor — Keeping Food Safe.” The Boys will be scored on how well their project, involving a Temperature Saving System (TSS), improves the quality of food by finding ways to prevent food contamination.

The TSS is a monitoring system that could save money and energy for businesses that use industrial freezers and refrigerators. The Boys have developed a wireless sensor along with an app for a smart phone or Ipad that will transmit temperature data. The app receives information from temperature sensors located on or in the refrigeration system. If there is a radical increase or decrease in temperature, the app will sound an alarm. It will also have a list of local engineers to call to assist in restoring the appliance. With easy access to this data, store managers can constantly monitor temperatures inside of freezers and refrigerators, saving time and money.

The first student to address Mayor Arakawa was Gus Lodise, 9, a fifth grader at Kaunakakai Elementary. In his first year of robotics, Gus said he joined because he wanted to improve his teamwork, thought it would be fun, and for the experience.

Next up was Caele Manley, a 10 year-old sixth grader who is home-schooled. He said robotics is “fun” and some day he hopes to be a pro surfer.

Noah Keanini is a sixth grader at Kaunakakai Elementary and hopes to be a robotics engineer some day. “I joined robotics because I love engineering, robotics and working with my friends,” he said.

Erik Svetin, 11, has four years experience in robotics, the most of anyone on the team. A seventh grader at Molokai Middle School, Erik said he joined robotics, “to practice teamwork and to have fun with Legos.” He said he would like to play professional baseball.

Kapahu Chow, 13, is an eighth grader at Molokai Middle School who, “thought it would be cool to join robotics and my friends went to it.” He has been involved in robotics for two years and some day hopes to be an engineer.

After the Blizzard Boys presented to Mayor Arakawa, they were inspired and wowed by a 20-minute mentoring session by Dave Taylor, a professional engineer and the department head of the County of Maui’s Board of Water Supply. He talked to them about their First Lego League project and innovative solution, what he does for Maui County’s water supply, the County’s use of generators for their water system (where the same solution could be applied to the boys’ problem) and the importance of going to college.

When the Blizzard Boys go to Maui for the FLL competition, the TSS project will represent about 80 percent of the points with the remaining 20 percent coming from the design and performance of the robot.

The Molokai robotics teams are now in their third year of competition and fourth year of existence.

“Mahalo a nui loa, everyone, for your continued support of our growing Molokai robotics program,” said STEM and robotics volunteer Kimberly Svetin.


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