By Mike Kruzman /

A local elementary school robotics teams is looking to make a difference in helping everyone be a little healthier.

The Bartlett Robo Bears are a FIRST Robotics team out of Bartlett Elementary School in Lyon Township. They are made up of 6 students in the third through fifth grades, 3 mentors and 2 coaches. The Robo Bears participate in the FIRST Lego League, in which they use Lego bricks to build and program robots to complete challenges at competitions. Last year they finished in 3rd place out of 64 teams in the state. In addition to building functioning robots, FIRST also challenges teams to solve a specific community challenge.

This year’s challenge is entitled RePlay, and tasks teams with finding ways to help people become more active. Robo Bears Coach Kathy Lefevre said that the team recognized that many of their peers aren’t as active as they might be, for reasons like spending too much time looking at screens or not being in school and missing physical education classes and recess. Lefevre says the Robo Bears idea was to create a web app that encourages people to get out to community places and be active. At popular family parks and trails the team will put up small signs with QR codes than can be scanned on a smart phone. The codes will link to challenges. For example, if a code is found at a baseball field, the app may challenge the participant to “run the bases.” They also hope to have alternative activities for people with different abilities. There will be points awarded, badges, and leaderboards.

The Robo Bears recently pitched the idea to the Lyon Township Board of Trustees, asking for permission to use the parks and trails for their program. Lefevre said the Board was in full support. The Robo Bears also want to ask the library and even South Lyon City Council, in hopes of getting permission for even more sites. Lefevre said the team has been working on this since fall, and hope to have it ready to launch in a month or so.

(Logo -