Utah's Young Innovators: The Programming Pickles

If you’re wondering what LEGO bricks can do besides entertain your children and absolutely destroy the bottom of your bare, unsuspecting foot, The Programming Pickles can help you.

The group of three boys, aged 13 to 14 years old, recently won the State competition in Utah and are off to the world competition for their innovations involving the renewable energy industry and a LEGO robot designed with energy-themed LEGO missions in mind.

One click on a video on The Programming Pickles YouTube channel and you’ll quickly get sucked into the amazing things these three boys are doing. One of their projects stemmed from a research paper they read about prevention of bird fatalities from wind turbine blades. It might not be something we think about much, but according to the American Bird Conservatory, an average of 366,000 birds are killed each year from wind turbines. In addition, the boys conducted some interviews and found that wind farms can be charged $5,000 for the death of one eagle from turbine blades.

Dr. Platt reviewing the team's Lego turbines. In this picture, he is showing them an eagle skull. PC: Chris Ashworth

The boys did some brainstorming, and using the theories in another research paper written by Dr. Roel May, came up with their own unique ideas. Instead of just painting one blade of the turbine to reduce motion smear, what if they added glitter in a way similar to what we commonly see on boats? After conducting experiments and simulations, the boys constructed four wind turbines from LEGO bricks and found their theory was a success. Their research was even published by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA).

For their next project, The Programming Pickles trio designed and constructed a unique LEGO robot with three wheels instead of the customary two. This allowed the robot to move in many directions and complete competition tasks faster and more efficiently. They used a forklift-style arm with pre-programmed heights for speed and accuracy, and included a gyroscope for nearly perfect turns while the robot was in motion.

The Programming Pickles robot

We are so proud of these Utah-based creators that have used their skills to change the world at such a young age.

Visit The Programming Pickles YouTube channel to learn more about what they’re up to and see how they fare at the world competition in Houston later this month.

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