Teams geared up for Animal Allies tourney

Warwick Beacon ·

Almost 500 students from across the state will compete in the FIRST LEGO League “Animal Allies” Championship Tournament on January 14, 2017, at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. 81 teams started the season, and 40, including three from Warwick and one from Cranston, advanced through the qualifying tournament system to this weekend’s state championship. The robot game portion of the event, held from 11 am – 4 pm, is free and open to the public.

FIRST LEGO League is a science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) enrichment program for elementary and middle school aged students that combines robotics with a research project based around an annual theme that encourages scientific literacy. In Rhode Island, FIRST LEGO League is managed by Rhode Island Students of the Future, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote STEAM engagement through youth robotics.

The local teams include the Bright Blue Builders, a neighborhood team in Cranston, the RoboSquids, a neighborhood team, the Mini Mariners from Rocky Hill School, and the Rockin’ Robots from St. Peter’s School, all in Warwick. At the Pier Middle School qualifying tournament in Narragansett in December, the Mini Mariners won the event’s top award, the champion’s award, and the RoboSquids won the judges award, while the Bright Blue Builders won the robot design award at the Gordon School qualifying tournament in November. All 40 teams have been meeting since September to build and program an autonomous LEGO EV3 robot that navigates across a playing field and scores points for completing various tasks. The teams also developed an innovative solution after defining a research questions relating to the “Animal Allies” theme, which focused on improving the relationship between animals and humans. At the action-packed tournament, teams compete in two-and-a-half minute matches to earn as many points as possible on the playing field, which is made entirely of LEGO elements.  In morning judging sessions, each team presents their “Animal Allies” research project and innovative solution to professionals from the community.

Teams meet with judges to discuss the design and programming of their robot, and the research question and solution they created. The team that wins the champion’s award must excel in all judging divisions and in the robot game, and will participate in April’s FIRST World Festival in St. Louis, an event that brings together teams from eighty countries to celebrate the robotics, STEAM, and the spirit of friendly competition and collaboration.

The FIRST LEGO League state championship is held in the Recreation Center at Roger Williams University, 1 Old Ferry Road, Bristol. The public is welcome to watch the robot game matches and meet teams from both the FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge programs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.on Saturday, January 14.

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