Four Foothill School students — sixth-graders Chloe, Christian and Vivian, and fifth-grader Albert — have returned from last weekend’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL) National Open Championship Robotics Tournament at Legoland in Carlsbad.
FLL is open to students ages 9 to 14. This competition is organized by the FIRST organization that also holds the high school version of the competition, of which the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy is an active participant. FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.
Every year, FLL releases a Challenge based on a real-world scientific topic. Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project and the FLL Core Values. The children participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a playing field (Robot Game) within a set time (2½ minutes) and developing an innovative solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FLL Core Values.
Being the sole team from Santa Barbara County at the FLL tournament, the team competed against 63 other teams from all over the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The Foothill LEGO Lovers ended the competition with the second-highest score in the whole tournament for their robot mission completion and received the second-place trophy for Robot Performance. In addition, they scored well in the other aspects of the competition — the Project, Core Values and Robot Design presentations.
This was even more remarkable because they are all elementary school students and it is the team’s first season in FLL. They competed against some teams that are junior high school students and have been competing for four or more years.
Hollister School will be hosting a friendly after-school LEGO challenge competition for the local schools on May 31. Foothill LEGO Lovers will be demonstrating their robot at this event.
They are also already looking forward to the next season, which will start at the end of August. The topic for the challenge will be “Senior Solutions.” Registration is open, and they encourage other interested students to participate by forming their own teams.
— Ri-Pen “Rip” Chou is coach of the Foothill School LEGO Lovers.