Teams of elementary and middle school students came together at Martinsville Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 5, to compete in the regional qualifier tournament for the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) LEGO Robotics Challenge.
After a high-energy day full of overcoming challenges, celebrating successes, programming robots presenting projects, and one epic dance party, three Martinsville City Schools teams— the Rainbow Riveters, the Micro Microwaves, and Absolute Zero—advanced to the state robotics competition, which will be held at James Madison University December 10 and 11.
This year’s challenge, called Superpowered, focuses on energy and encourages teams to “reimagine the future of sustainable energy,” according to FLL’s website. “To empower young people to be leaders and innovators, this year’s energy theme addresses global challenges related to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #7—focused on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all.”
To prepare for the competition, teams had to design, build, and program a robot to perform various missions within a set time period. They were also tasked with identifying a real-world problem related to the year’s theme, conducting research, and creating an innovative solution to that problem. For example, one team designed a solar-powered electric blanket to help the homeless keep warm during the winter while another created a machine to clean dirt and grime from solar panels.
“We are so proud of all of our city’s LEGO Robotics teams and what they were able to accomplish this year,” said tournament director and the school division’s coordinator of STEM, Math, and Science Jill Collins. “The LEGO program encompasses all of the Five C’s (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, and citizenship) as well as math, computer programming, engineering, problem solving, and teambuilding. It is so much more than just programming a robot to accomplish missions, and we are delighted that so many of our students participated in this year’s program.”
Twelve city school teams competed in the regional qualifying tournament, translating to more than 100 elementary and middle school students participating in the program.
The full list of award winners from the Martinsville regional qualifying tournament are:
Champion’s Award: Absolute Zero Robot Performance Award: Power to the Tigers Robot Design Award: ACNF (All Creativity No Failure) Innovation Project Award: Rainbow Riveters Core Values Award: The Magical Unicodes Breakthrough Award: Wild Kidz Rising All-Star Award: Team 6/7 Motivate Award: SOS Save Our Sphere Volunteer Award: Callie Hietala