December 21, 2011 - Turkey was the topic for this year's S.T.A.R.S. team project.
From right, Thomas McCarty interviews Trevor Chamberlain and Alex Skene during the skit. (click for larger version)
"I learned a lot about how food gets contaminated and how it affects people," said eighth grader Matt Covert, member of the Super Thoroughly Awesome Robotic Scientists team, based at Sashabaw Middle School.
The topic was inspired by recent outbreaks of salmonella poisoning from eating turkey. Their solution was to use ultraviolet light to kill the bacteria, said Isabella Imirowicz, fourth grade student.
"We made it simpler, something that can be done on the processing line," Imirowicz said.
They researched the topic by talking to Michigan Turkey Producers and other experts, and came up with a process involving ultraviolet light.
Turkeys are placed on Nano UV light wands arranged around a rotating drum. They use heat to kill bacteria on the inside and outside of the birds.
The team, also including Trevor Chamberlain, Brandon Imirowicz, Michael McCarty, Thomas McCarty, Alex Skene, and David Woodham, earned a spot at the Flint Championship Tournament, Dec. 10, at Carman-Ainsworth Middle School.
They finished 20th of the 48 teams.
"The team still had a great time and we really did learn a lot," said Kathy McCarty, S.T.A.R.S. coach. "This was our second year in a row that we won a place to compete at the state tournament level and that, in and of itself, is a huge accomplishment."
Michigan had 340 FLL teams registered this year.
This was Isabella's first year with the team.
"I thought it would be fun," she said. "My dad is a coach. I went to many competitions since they started, and I felt it would be fun to actually compete."
Covert is in his second year with the team.
"It's going great. I really like it," he said. "We've had some great robot runs. I learning how programming works –I've improved quite a bit."
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.