MOUNT AIRY, NC – Two Renfro engineers recently participated in Surry First LEGO League, a new program in which middle school students work in teams to build and program robots made from LEGOs.
The Surry First LEGO League competition was held for the first time last fall and culminated in a county-wide event in December. Inspired by a similar competition that began in Forsyth County in 2011, it is part of a national program designed to stimulate students’ interest in math, science, engineering and technology.
In late September, each participating team received, at no cost, a kit containing the elements needed to build a LEGO robot. The students drew upon their knowledge of math and science principles to program the robot to do perform a series of tasks at the competition, such as knocking over miniature bowling pins and picking up a chair. Awards were also given for teams for excelling in areas such as design, research, and teamwork.
During the weeks of preparation, each team was paired with local professionals in the engineering and science-related fields. Kevin Hoffman, Renfro industrial engineer, and Tom McCluskey, packaging engineer, went to Gentry Middle School one afternoon a week to help two teams with their projects. Mentors guide the student teams in building and programming the robots, as well as building regulation.size competition tables, but all of the work and important decision.making is done by the students. “We made suggestions and asked questions to guide their thinking process,” Hoffman said.
On the day of the competition, Hoffman and McCluskey enjoyed seeing how far their teams had come – not only in programming the robots, but in their ability to work together. “They learn a lot of leadership skills, and how to work with different members of the team who have different ideas and ways of doing things,” Hoffman said.
“It was wonderful to hear from the teachers that some of the kids had not been very interested in science, math and technology before, but because of working with the robots, were now excited about these subjects,” McCluskey said.
In another facet of the competition, the students also had to do research and make suggestions for solving a real.world problem, then give a presentation to a panel of judges about their approach. This year, the assignment was to tackle an issue facing senior adults. The Gentry students chose to research ways to help seniors deal with arthritis.
Renfro President and CEO Bud Kilby said Renfro was a corporate sponsor, and provided mentors, to the Surry First LEGO League competition because of the company’s desire to give back to the local community. “Companies like Renfro look to today’s students to be future employees, and it is very appropriate that we encourage students to consider careers in science and mathematics.”
About Renfro Corporation
Renfro Corporation is the global leader in the design, manufacture, marketing, merchandising and selling of legwear products in North America and in selected major international markets. Headquartered in Mount Airy, N.C., Renfro provides a full line of branded and private-label sock and other legwear products and is the licensee for recognized brands such as Fruit of the Loom; Dr. Scholl’s; Ralph Lauren/Lauren Polo; Copper Sole; Wrangler; Sperry; Russell; Jerzees; Spalding; Bike; and Carhartt. It owns leading fashion brands K. Bell and Hot Sox.
Contact for Renfro:
Annese Public Relations, Inc.