It was an extremely exciting and busy Saturday across New Jersey where more than 200 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams competed in nine different regional tournaments on November 21, 2015. Amongst the ten FLL teams from Livingston Robotics Club, the club took home two Champions Awards (the highest honor), multiple 1st place awards in Robot Design, Project Research and Robot Performance. Five of the LRC teams qualified for the State Championship in December, while the other five LRC teams will be focusing on robot missions to compete in robot performance in the spring.
Each year, FIRST LEGO League announced a real-world challenge theme for teams ages 9 to 14 to conduct a project research, design and program a Mindstorm robot and compete to complete a series of pre-defined robot missions. This year’s challenge is “Trash Trek” which teams would need to identify a solid waste problem and come up with an innovative solution to improve the current condition in trash collection and/or recycling in their community.
With seven out of ten LRC FLL teams are having their rookie season this year, LRC had a busy time rounding up the teams for expert lectures and field trips to learn about recycling and waste management. Since August, teams have been meeting weekly under the guidance of their coaches to prepare for the competitions. The result from the qualifiers reflected all the hard work and learning of the student members, and the time and effort invested by the volunteer coaches.
When time to compete in qualifier, each team could independently select the location of the tournament. Six LRC teams went to Clifton elected to compete at Clifton, while others traveled to Sparta, Bergen and Bridgewater.
Exit 5A Robotics, the sister team of Exit 5 Robotics, consists of 5th, 6th, and 7th graders from Livingston, are now in their second year of FLL. The team attended the Clifton qualifier packed with 39 other highly competitive teams, many from LRC. The team was very much impressed with many exciting projects at the event which included some full scale working models. It was a great scene to watch so many great robots and lots of teams working furiously to get their projects ready or to tweak their robots. Exit 5A Robotics finished with Champion’s Award and 2nd place in Robot Performance.
Also in its second FLL season, another all-girls Livingston team, RoboDevils, also won the prestigious Champion’s Award at the Clifton qualifier, resulted in a rare occasion where two teams from the same club both took top awards at the same venue. RoboDevils comprises of four 6th and 7th grade girls whose research project targeted the wastage of school supplies. The team proposed to collect unused school supplies at schools and distributes them to charities and recyclers. This proposal has been reviewed and supported by the Livingston Township Recycling and Reclamation Committee, Livingston Education Foundation and Livingston Environmental Commission. The pilot program will be launched in Livingston’s middle school.
Veteran Livingston team, Spongebot, consists of one 3rd grader, five 6th graders and two seven graders. Most of the team members participate in FLL for the first time this season. Their day started with a robot design judging session where the team showed their multi-mission robot that uses both gyro and color sensor to improve accuracy of the robot. During the project judging, Spongebot showed a working prototype of “A Bottle Crusher” (ABC). This is a device that can be used to replace a large recycle bin by eliminating excess liquid and air in plastic bottle and aluminum can recyclables to reduce cost and improve quality in recycling process. The device gained attention of many visitors at the team’s pit area. With an overall high score in all judging categories, Spongebot was selected as one of the well-rounded teams that advance to the Northern New Jersey State Championship.
Rookie team RoboStorms consists of four Livingston elementary school students won big in Sparta qualifier by achieving an impressive 1st place in its Project Research and 1st place award in Robot Performance with a high score of 497 points.
Lego Super Starz from Parsippany ranked 6th place out of 40 teams in Robot Performance at Clifton, collected the Highest Scoring Rookie Team Award and Rookie Imagination Award.
On the same day at Bridgewater qualifier, rookie team Teknado from Florham Park secured a 4th place ranking in Robot Performance. Meanwhile, rookie teams Robobuilders, Mindstormers, and Lego Engineers all successfully competed for the first time. “Although we didn’t win, the team had a great experience. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot.” said team Robobuilders.
As can happen at robotics competition, rookie team HIPE from Ridgewood faced an early morning mechanical surprise but calmly worked through it to produce a 1st place in Robot Design and a 3rd place in Robot Performance at the Bergen qualifying tournament. Scoring well on their Research Project (called SAFE – Search And Find E-waste), and Core Values interviews secured the team a place at the FLL State Championship tournament.
Livingston Robotics Club is a community-based science and robotics club which currently has 16 active teams in three divisions, comprised of almost a hundred K-12 members from a dozen surrounding NJ towns. The teams are coached by more than 30 volunteer parents. The club continues to thrive and attract many dedicated parents and students to actively take part in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education with hands-on project-base learning. The LRC teams will have three weeks to prepare for the North Jersey FLL State Championship which will be held on December 12, 2015 at Mt. Olive High School.