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December 13, 2005 > Fremont team places second in robotics competition

Fremont team places second in robotics competition

by Graham Bell

On Saturday, December 3, at Mission San Jose High School, 28 teams competed from throughout the East Bay in the FIRST Lego League tournament. Despite being a first-time team, the Aquabots received a rank of second place in the robotics competition and are now eligible to advance to the Northern California Tournament to be held on Jan. 14 in San Jose.

The Aquabots team has seven students in third through fifth grades from Weibel and Warm Springs elementary schools in Fremont, Harker Elementary and Curtner Elementary in Milpitas.

"The team did an excellent job, not only with the robot design and programming, but also in their research presentations on how ocean tidal power could be used for the generation of electricity," said Coach Archana Asthana.

FIRST Lego League (FLL) is a program for children aged 9 through 14. Using Lego Mindstorms technology, teams of four to 10 members build a robot and compete in friendly events designed especially for their age group. They use Lego "elements" such as bricks, sensors, motors and gears, and gain hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles as they construct and program their unique inventions.

This year's theme was the Ocean Odyssey Project; teams worked together to research an ocean activity or resource and trace its impact on health, biodiversity, and productivity. Each team creates an innovative solution to improve the use of this resource or activity, while minimizing the negative impact on our oceans for present and future generations. The teams created a presentation of findings and conclusions. The Aquabots focused on the issue and impacts of electrical generation using ocean tidal power, as well as building a robot for the challenge competition.

During a 10-week season, each team developed its own strategy to solve the year's challenge. They design and build a robot based on that strategy. Tournaments give the kids a chance to learn just how successful their creations are, and how many different and clever solutions there can be. Of course, they have a great time too. Many of the kids involved with the FIRST Lego League go on to become involved in the FIRST Robotics program at the high school and college level. They also come back as mentors for FLL teams. It is a great program for kids to learn not only about science and technology, but teamwork and problem solving as well.

While the tournaments decide who builds the best robot, their true purpose is to recognize and celebrate those achievements of the team - far more important than how many points were scored. Awards are given for excellence in teamwork, creative thinking, design skills, overcoming obstacles, communication, research, and leadership among others.

For more information about the FIRST Lego League visit www.FirstLegoLeague.org.

 
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