Robotics team hosts FIRST LEGO League competitionWritten by Sarah Stuart on December 21, 2012
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is nothing short of “the varsity sport of the mind” when it comes to the competition atmosphere generated by its enthusiastic participants. Despite the dreary weather and impending holiday festivities, the stands of the Shelton High School gymnasium were packed with spectators of every age on December 2.
The Shelton High School Robotics team hosted another successful Circus Robotix FIRST LEGO League Qualifying Event. This year’s competition consisted of 24 teams from across Connecticut. Nearly 300 students and mentors competed for a Golden Ticket to the state competition.
FIRST LEGO League is geared towards younger students, ages 9-14, who tackle real-world problems through building LEGO based robots to perform “missions.” Each year these missions vary in accordance to that year’s theme. Students apply their critical thinking skills to research projects that, in turn, build their knowledge of science and math concepts.
In this year’s competition, teams faced the challenge of developing original and innovative ideas towards improving the quality of life for senior citizens through creating products that encourage them to become independent, engaged, and connected in their communities. Challenges like getting around, keeping in touch, and staying fit were applied to the match field, as well as the student project presentation.
Over the past several years, FIRST has become a growing part of the community. Beyond the Shelton High School robotics team, the number of FIRST LEGO League teams has increased dramatically. Since 2010, the Shelton school district has expanded to four teams including the Perry Hill Dominators, Perry Hill Predators, Shelton Intermediate School Thundering Tigers, and Shelton Intermediate School Robotic Revolution. The SHS Gaelhawks also mentor an additional team, the Saint Joseph Challengers. Much of the Shelton community is familiar with the FIRST program as a result of the success of the Shelton Intermediate School’s Robotics Revolution global innovation award-winning “Smart Sticker.”
The event itself bore a competitive atmosphere. Out of the 24 present teams, only six would receive a “Golden Ticket” and an invitation to the State competition. Each team had its highs and lows, but overall Shelton remained victorious. The Perry Hill Dominators placed 1st for the Robot Performance Award obtaining the highest field score of the day while their sister team, the Perry Hill Predators, placed 2nd in the same category. The SIS Thundering Tigers received the Robot Design award for their mechanically sound and innovative design. All three teams, as well as the St. Joseph Challengers, received Golden Tickets to the state competition. Although the St. Joseph Challengers did not receive an award, they were recognized for their outstanding performance.
Laura Spoldi, parent of two recent SHS graduates and FIRST robotics mentor for the middle school and high school level, received the Louis J. Schmecker Memorial Mentor Award for her outstanding volunteer effort over the last several years. This mentoring award was dedicated to a founding member of the SHS Robotics team, Louis J. Schmecker, who passed away during the Summer of 2012. Teams are given the opportunity to honor a mentor by submitting an application. Spoldi was nominated by the St. Joseph Challengers for her “continued support, encouragement, and insight throughout the FLL season.”
A neighborhood team out of Westport, SNAP, stole the show and carried home the Champion’s Award. This tag team of merely four members dominated the scoreboard and charmed the judges.
The teams to receive a Golden ticket traveled to CCSU (Central Connecticut State University) on December 9 for the state competition. All of the Shelton teams, including the St. Joseph Challengers, did very well in both areas of robot game and judging. The Perry Hill Dominators won the “Judge’s Award” for their all-around excellence.
The SHS Robotics team kicks off their season in January. New members are always welcome to join.