NJ FIRST LEGO League 2009 State Championship Results

After three months of robot design and project research, 46 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams out of 141 teams in NJ were selected from nine qualifying events throughout the State.  They had gathered on December 12th, 2009 at the Mt. Olive High School in Flanders, NJ to compete for the New Jersey State Champion title. The Champion’s Award winner received an invitation to the FLL World Festival which is to be held in April, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia to compete with 84 teams from 35 countries.

The FIRST LEGO League is an annual international science and robotics competition for students age 9 to 14.  Each year, a different real-life but open-ended challenge topic and robot missions are announced globally in the beginning of September. Students have to determine their own project topic, interview experts, conduct research, and share their findings and innovative solutions with the community. In addition, each team has to design an autonomous robot using only LEGO parts to perform a set of predetermined missions in 2-1/2 minutes.

This year’s “Smart Move” challenge is about transportation.  Each team has to identified a problem and proposed improvements in safety and efficiency of transportation in their community. Students are encouraged to explore science, technology, engineering and math in this volunteer/ mentor-based competition, while learning valuable life skills such as teamwork, problem solving, time management and public speaking.

As visitors and participants entered the Mt. Olive High School, the lobby area was filled with opportunities to enjoy!  After registration, teams had the opportunity to decorate their pit areas and participated in robot practice rounds. Teams were invited in raffle drawings, purchase FIRST memorabilia and T-shirts, and demo the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robots.

In the morning of the tournament, there were three 15-minute back-to-back closed door judging sessions for teams to meet with different panels of judges.  Over 40 judges challenged the students in various skills. These judges were from the Jersey City Board Of Education, the NJ FLL prime sponsor Sanofi-Aventis, adult mentors from numerous FRC teams, and many local business executives to compile this group of scoring experts.

Teams were to present their research projects in a creative way, go through the technical interview about their robot designs, and solve a teamwork challenge in a cooperative manner.  Throughout the morning, there were also robot practice and many last minute fine tunings of the robot programming at the pit areas.  Many teams chose to take this opportunity to get a closer look at each other’s robot design and the project boards, took pictures and socialize, while the coaches exchanged ideas and experiences.

The FLL opening ceremony started shortly after lunch to initiate the robot performance rounds in a sport arena type of setting.  The Mt. Olive High School Principal, Mr. Kevin Stansberry and School Superintendent Dr. Larrie Reynolds, as well as Mount Olive Robotics Team (MORT) welcomed all participants and spectators.

The robot performance competition was the most exciting and nerve racking part of the competition by far.  Each team had 3 chances to compete head-to-head in pairs to complete a set of pre-assigned missions in the autonomous mode in 2.5 minutes. This was where practice and good design plus luck would prevail to achieve the perfect 400 points.  Cheering, music, and thumping from the spectator bleachers can be heard throughout the afternoon.  Many people were taking photos and videos up close to catch all the actions of their favorite teams.  Limited two robot handlers were allowed at the competition table during any given time each round; and these students must be able to operate the robot, make on the spot  strategy decisions, verified the scores, and identify the problem areas to make corrections or adjustments before the next round.

After hours of fast-pace and intense competitions, the winners of this year’s project research, robot design, teamwork, and robot performance were announced, along with the mentor award, judges and team spirit awards were given out.   This year’s 1st place robot performance winner, HMS Platinum from Hillsborough, NJ achieved two rounds of perfect 400 points. The 2nd place Robot Performance winner and also the 2nd place Champion’s Award recipient, NanoGurus #6831, was a 4th-year neighborhood team from Parsippany, NJ.  After being two consecutive years as the NJ State Champion and the FLL ambassador, in their 3rd and final FLL season, team Landroids #109 pass the torch the new 1st place Champion’s Award winner, The Atoms Family #4832. Even though the Atoms Family has ranked #5 in the robot performance score, the Champion’s Award was given to a team who, in the big picture, was the strongest in all of the four categories combined: Research, Robot Design, Robot Performance, and Teamwork.  By receiving this most prestigious award in FLL, this 4th year neighborhood team from Roxbury, NJ will be representing New Jersey at the FLL World Festival in Atlanta, GA.

Also coinciding with the FLL State Championship is the New Jersey Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) Expo held at the high school library. Jr.FLL is a non-competitive robotics program for student ages six to nine. Students were asked to work on a “Smart Move” project by learning about how people, animals, and things are moved from one place to another. Students need to hunt for answers and create a poster to demonstrate their findings. They also need to use LEGO bricks with an option to use a LEGO robotics kit to build their models. Eight Jr.FLL teams from around the State participated in the event. Each team received a trophy and each child received a certificate for their participation.

This concluded the New Jersey FLL and Jr.FLL 2009 “Smart Move” season.  See below for a complete list of 2009 NJ FIRST LEGO League State tournament winners.  For the Daily Record news video coverage of this tournament, click here.

2009 Winners Rank Team # Team Name Organization/Town

Champion’s 1st 4832 The Atoms Family Neighborhood / Roxbury
2nd 6831 NanoGurus Neighborhood / Parsippany
Robot Performance 1st 3691 HMS Platinum Hillsborough Middle School / Hillsborough
2nd 6831 NanoGurus Neighborhood / Parsippany
3rd 2199 Trainiacs Pope John XXIII Regional High School / Sparta
Robot Design 1st 109 Landroids Livingston Robotics Club / Livingston
2nd 3375 Thunderclan Livingston Robotics Club / Livingston
3rd 4104 YoBotics Renaissance Middle School / Montclair
Research Project 1st 3435 Lego Academy Academy I Middle School / Jersey City
2nd 4764 Bergen BEES Bergen Arts & Science Charter School / Garfield
3rd 3688 HMS Ruby Hillsborough Middle School / Hillsborough
Teamwork 1st 3349 Nerd Herd Girl Scouts of Northern NJ / Randolph
2nd 4139 Miracles Can Happen Girl Scouts of Northern NJ / Randolph
3rd 3692 HMS Onyx Hillsborough Middle School / Hillsborough
Judges Award 1st 8332 Purple Pelicans Neighborhood / Denville
2nd 284 Ann Street School Newark Public School / Newark
Against All Odds 4900 LEGO Onions Neighborhood / Glenrock
Team Spirit 210 Marlton Mustangs Marlton Middle School / Marlton
Adult Coach/Mentor Lorena Kirschner
Volunteer Award Alissa Okrent

Filed under: Event, FLL, Feature, New Jersey, News — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — pearl @ 3:50 pm on January 13, 2009
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