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April 01, 2012   Email to Friend 

Egg Heads Research Project Cracks The Competition
Mary Johnson

Egg Heads team coach Kristy Dunn helps team co-captain Daniel Ceci set up the robot.
Many elementary school students only think about eggs as a breakfast staple or an item of pursuit during Easter. But students on the Jones Valley Elementary School robotics team in Huntsville have had eggs on their brains since last September. That’s when the group started a research project focused on preventing egg contamination.

Teacher and team coach Kristy Dunn said the students were extremely dedicated to the research, so much so that the group has deemed itself “Egg Heads.”

“I’m here for the meetings, and I guide them,” Dunn said. “But they do all the work. It’s great to have these kids who really get into it and go the extra mile. That’s why our team has always been successful.”

The Egg Heads’ research focused on finding a way to cool eggs faster, which could lead to fewer cases of salmonella contamination. After months of study and research, the team proposed adding a dry ice (CO2) chamber to a conveyor belt system. According to the Egg Heads’ findings, such an addition would lower eggs’ internal temperature to less than 45 degrees, without harming the egg, at a cost of just 2-5 cents per dozen.

In December, the team took their research to the regional competition of the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Challenge and won the Champion’s Award, first place overall, out of 17 teams. Along with the research project, groups were judged on a robotics challenge and a group activity. At the state level, the Egg Heads brought home second place in research out of 35 teams.

As part of the research process, the students took a field trip to Warren Farms in Union Grove to see egg processing first-hand. Egg Heads co-captain and fifth-grader Daniel Ceci said the experience taught him about agriculture in general.

“We learned that agriculture does a lot of things and goes all around the world,” Ceci said. “It is very important that nothing has bacteria in it because it could make people sick.”

Ceci hopes to continue as a member of the robotics team and looks forward to the future challenges.

Although Ceci and other students show extraordinary creativity, his career goal may be somewhat more typical of most boys his age.

When asked if the project inspired him to become a poultry farmer, he said his career inspirations are in a different field. “I kinda want to play football…for Alabama,” he said.

As part of the competition requirements, the Egg Heads shared their research with various elected officials and research groups. To view the group’s skit, search for JV Food Factor Presentation on YouTube.

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