All five Livingston Robotics Club (LRC) teams that competed at the North Jersey FIRST LEGO League (FLL) State Championship on December 12, 2015, took home a top award. LRC team HIPE Robotics was crowned 2nd place Champion’s Award at the State Championship, and received an invitation to compete at the FLL North America Open Championship in LEGOLAND, CA. Team Spongebot was nominated to represent North Jersey to compete at the FLL Global Innovation Award (GIA) to be held in Washington DC.
A total of 62 FLL teams advanced from the November qualifiers competed at the North Jersey State Championship. Due to the tremendous growth in FLL, this is the first time that New Jersey created two separate North and South Championship regions, where the North Jersey region encompassed most of the New Jersey teams. 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.
Robotics teams from LRC are traditionally known for their prowess in high performing robot designs, however, this year’s LRC FLL teams highlighted the club’s equal success in innovative science research as well as robot performance.
LRC team Spongebot has been developing a machine that can be used to drain liquid out of cans and bottles to reduce contamination in the recyclables in order to improve the quality and reduce energy consumption in recycle collection. The team built a working prototype from recycle material such as wheels and motors from an old Power Wheels car and scrap woods, known as “A Bottle Crusher (ABC)”. An ultrasonic sensor was added to the motors with a program coded in Arduino electronic board in order to automatically operate the machine. This prototype was presented to groups in Livingston including the township’s Recycling and Reclamation Committee, Boy Scouts Troop 16, and Livingston Huaxia Chinese School prior to the competition. The judges found that the project “was very creative and fully functional”, and awarded the team the 1st Place Innovative Solution Award. Additionally, the team was selected as the North Jersey State Championship nominee to submit this project to compete in the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award (GIA). Only one team selected from each FLL Championship around the world is eligible to compete. The top 20 semi-finalists will be announced in April 2016 to advance to the finals which will be held in Washington DC in June 2016.
Since the November qualifier, LRC team HIPE Robotics from Ridgewood has been working steadily to improve their robot named HIPER, and their project called SAFE Sentry, The judges cited the team’s pre-season efforts to ensure that all team members learned the LEGO Mindstorm EV3 programming and mechanical designs, such as the wheel and motor matching, which helped the team to place 22nd in the robot performance competition. As a 2015 Global Innovations Awards (GIA) competitor in St. Louis, MO, the team also presented their GIA project poster about their innovative idea from last season to others at the tournament. HIPE Robotics was overwhelmingly excited to win 2nd place Champions at the State tournament, which cemented their efforts to be a well-rounded team. Members are thrilled for their upcoming travel to LEGOLAND California in May 2016 to compete at the FLL North America Open Championship.
LRC team RoboDevils, an all-girls Livingston team, took the 1st place Project Presentation Award where the team’s “Green Bin” project was praised as a living example of community involvement where the schools would consolidate their school supply lists, support the unused school supplies collections, and redistributed the supplies to the needy. Their comprehensive solution to tackling the problem of wasted school supplies continued to impress the judges. Extensive research, community outreach, with approvals from various civic and charitable organizations enabled their innovative solution to earned this top award. This recognition further validates this project and the team is excited to implement their proposal in the Livingston schools in the coming year. RoboDevils also ranked 15th out of 62 teams in robot performance.
Meanwhile, rookie team RoboStorms, , a promising young team consists of one 4th grader and three 5th graders from Hillside Elementary School in Livingston, impressed the judges for their “Wet Waste Genie” idea to collect and compost the kitchen wastes in an odor controlled bin at home. Judges recognized the project’s great potential for its simplicity and real time utility application. The team earned a 2nd place Project Innovation Award, and ranked a respected 19th place out of 62 teams in the robot performance competition.
LRC team Exit 5A Robotics, an all-girls team, received a 1st place Inspiration Award, where the judges recognized the team consistently across the board, demonstrating all FIRST core values, exemplified as a role model team for other teams to follow.
Livingston Robotics Club is a community-based science and robotics club comprised of about a hundred K-12 members from a dozen surrounding NJ towns. All teams are coached by volunteer parent coaches to advance STEM education with hands-on, real-world learning. The club will be hosting the 9th annual Engineers Week Robotics Exhibition at Liberty Science Center on 2016 President’s Day, and is in planning for the Jr FIRST LEGO League Expo during the Youth Appreciation Week in May 2016.