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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 10:14 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

Local FIRST Lego League Team to Compete in Championship Robotics Tournament in May

Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 is all smiles after winning a Santa Maria qualifying tournament last fall. Click to view larger
Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 is all smiles after winning a Santa Maria qualifying tournament last fall. (Ri-Pen “Rip” Chou photo)

Seven South Coast students just found out that they have been invited to compete in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) North American Championship Robotics Tournament at Legoland in Carlsbad from May 15-17. This will be the third time in four years that the team has been invited to this prestigious tournament.

Their team, FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3, consists of one ninth-grader at Dos Pueblos High School, four eighth-graders at La Colina Junior High School and two sixth-graders at Foothill School.

They are the only Santa Barbara County team in this year’s North American championship and will be competing against more than 75 teams from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as from other countries.

Every August, 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.

This year’s FLL Theme is World Class, and the kids had to come up with an innovative solution to improve the way that someone can learn. The team decided to figure out an easier way for kids to learn some chemistry, and ended up creating two brand-new games, “ChemBattle” and “Raiders of the Lost Elements.”

They had to create and give a five-minute presentation about their research and solution at the tournaments. (Scroll down the page for a video.) They even made an initial production run of their products and sold them at a local Bennett’s Education store.

At the Los Angeles Regional FLL Championship Tournament in December, FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 got the highest Robot Performance score with 548 points, possibly even the highest score for all of California. (Scroll down for a related video.)

“The team is really excited to be able to help represent Santa Barbara County at a national level, especially since this is their fourth and final season with FLL,” coach Ri-Pen “Rip” Chou said.

“The kids will all be going different directions next year. My oldest daughter, Chloe, is already in the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy program, and four other team members (Lance Brown, Scott Brown, Aaron Juan and Albert Miao) will be going to high school next year.

“They have all applied to the DPEA program, and are hoping to be able to continue their passion of robots and teamwork there. My two youngest daughters, Mia and Cami, will be entering La Colina Junior High, and they will be busy with other activities.”

Chou pointed out the difficulty of reaching the national level.

“It’s very unusual and hard for a team to make it to the national level,” he said. “And we have the honor of being invited to this tournament three of the four years is just amazing.  It really shows the level of commitment and dedication these kids have put into FLL for all these years, and the incredible help and mentoring from coach Mack Fixler.

“Besides the tournaments, the team has put in a tremendous amount of time for community outreach,” he added. “They have helped several of the other local FLL teams for the last several years, gave presentations during several Science Nights, school demonstrations and to the Santa Barbara County Board of Education. Last month they helped organized and run a friendly robotics competition with FLL teams and Raytheon employees during National Engineers Week.

“It’s been quite a year for the kids, and I’m excited that the season will continue until May.”

(ripchou video)

(ripchou video)

Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 at Bennett’s Education store, where they presented their two new invented games. (Ri-Pen 'Rip' Chou photo)
Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 at Bennett’s Education store, where they presented their two new invented games. (Ri-Pen “Rip” Chou photo)

Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3’s robot has been dubbed 'Infinity.' (Ri-Pen 'Rip' Chou photo)
Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3’s robot has been dubbed “Infinity.” (Ri-Pen “Rip” Chou photo)

Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 runs their robot at the Los Angeles Regional Championship Tournament last fall. (Ri-Pen 'Rip' Chou photo)
Team FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 runs their robot at the Los Angeles Regional Championship Tournament last fall. (Ri-Pen “Rip” Chou photo)

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