Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 2:43 pm | Fair 73º


Local FIRST Lego League Team Scores in Top 10, Receives Project Award at Championship

Members of the FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 team with their trophy.
Members of the FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3 team with their trophy. (Rip Chou photo)

A local FIRST Lego League team recently came back from the FLL North American Open Championship Robotics Tournament held at Legoland.

Seventy-six teams from all over the world, including South Korea and Turkey, spent three days competing for both the best Robot score and on their Project invention. They were very successful in both areas, scoring in the Top 10 for their Robot Performance and also winning the Project Award (Innovative Solution).

Their team, FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3, consists of one ninth-grader at Dos Pueblos High School (enrolled in the DPEA program), four eighth-graders at La Colina Junior High and two sixth-graders at Foothill Elementary School. They are the only Santa Barbara County team in this year’s North American Championship tournament.

This was the third time in four years that the team has been invited to this prestigious tournament, and it was a great way for them to end their involvement with FLL. They had also recently been invited to St. Louis to attend the FIRST World Festival for their Project in the Global Innovation Award competition, and was a semi-finalist in that competition out of 527 FLL entries.

“The great part of FLL and of this team is the high level of teamwork and participation from everyone,” coach Rip Chou said. “Everyone helped build and ran the robots in all the tournaments, and they all spent an enormous amount of time developing and producing the games for their project. They had to handcraft most of the pieces for the games, and certainly developed an appreciation for manufacturing and costing. The awards in these competitions are very competitive, and it was an honor for the team to have been recognized in both tournaments.”

FLL team
Chloe and Mia Chou watch their robot successfully perform a mission. (Avery Juan photo)

For their project as part of the FLL theme (World Class), 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 chemistry, and ended up creating two brand new games “ChemBattle” and “Raiders of the Lost Elements.”

The kids made two production runs of their products and even sold them at a local Bennetts Education store. They sold out of their games, and are considering going into volume production of their products during the summer to sell the game online.

“We were able to present the games to several audiences in both competition, and we got a lot of great feedback and interest from many people for the chemistry games,” Chou said. “We are thinking about manufacturing and selling more during the summer as a fun summer project for the kids to learn more about business and entrepreneurship.

“We started an e-mail list to contact people in case they are interested in the games if we produce more. Those that are interested can contact the team through [email protected].”

The team also wanted to acknowledge several local companies that have helped the team tremendously over the years, including FLIR Systems, Raytheon and Pacific Design Technologies. They are also very appreciative of their amazing co-coach, Mack Fixler, and for all the supportive parents through all these seasons.

— Ri-Pen “Rip” Chou coaches FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3.

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