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December 17, 2013 > Local teams accept the Lego challenge

Local teams accept the Lego challenge

Submitted By Vandana Deep

Two teams from Alvarado Middle School in Union City participated in the 2013 NatureÕs Fury Challenge organized by the First Lego League (FLL). This yearÕs challenge was based on the theme of Natural Disasters. The challenge included three components: The Robot Game, The Project and Core Values.

The Robot Game took place on a game table; each teamÕs robot had to complete specific tasks that simulated a real life situation. Each team built and programmed a robot to accomplish as many tasks as possible in head-to-head competition with other teams.

The Project component explored creative ways to solve problems associated with natural occurrences such as earthquakes, storms and tornadoes; the teams then had to present their solution to judges at the tournament.

Teams had to identify a problem resulting from natural events in a given community, do research to better understand the problem, and work with experts in the field to present a potential solution.

Alvarado Middle School team, ÒMiddle School Mechanics (MSM),Ó 7th graders Haaris Kadri and Riya Arora, coached by Mehboob Kadri developed a mobile device app, as their project solution, to educate first graders about natural disasters. For the final presentation, the team put together a short skit demonstrating the usefulness of their app.

In the Qualifying Tournament at Play Space in San Jose on November 23, team MSM was the first to go to the practice round. Everything went haywire; their robot was not performing the tasks as programmed. Determining the root cause of the problem was a color sensor that would not work as intended with the room lighting, they quicklyÊimplemented a solution addressing this issue.

Shortly afterwards, they lost one of their attachments, 10 minutes before their assigned first ÒscoredÓ round of robot challenge! They quickly recovered from that situation by putting together a makeshift attachment for the challenge, and could perfect it only after the first round was over.

Despite all these challenges, they displayed commendable resilience and kept their cool under pressure. The team qualified for the next round - the Northern California Regional Tournament.

ÒThe Dream MachinesÓ members Arshia Deep, Anwesh Mohanty, Samay Mishra, Natalie Rodgers, Jazem Siddiqui, Neyaz Siddiqui, Viren Srivastava, coached by Faraz Siddiqui and mentored by Michelle Rodgers and Vandana Deep approached the robotic problem by pairing team members for specific tasks. They developed a solution for emergency responders at the school in the event of a serious earthquake. Their project demonstrated a handheld device TEKNOLINK which ensures only authorized adults can pick up students even when power and networks are out, a great improvement over the current time-consuming, paper-based process. Prior to the tournament, the team presented their solution via a creative iPad simulation to the school administration and members of the emergency response team, who endorsed it as a viable option.

In the qualifying tournament at Sunflower Academy in Pleasanton on November 24, team Dream Machines received the Best Project Award. The judges felt the presentation was concise, clean, well organized, and addressed the most precious resources in the event of a disaster Ð the students.

Both teams worked tirelessly over many weeks to develop their robots, attachments, and programming, in order to accomplish their missions, while focusing on learning about natural disasters and coming up with creative project solutions.

Although the First Lego League (FLL) is a competition, the true benefit is to enable students to become independent thinkers, problem solvers, and excellent teammates.

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