The Westfield Robotics FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) team, Purple Sabotage, consisting of eight 8th grade girls, earned first place for the Inspiration Award in the NJ State FLL Competition. This award celebrates a team that is empowered by their FLL experience and displays extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit. Members of Purple Sabotage, coached by Edison Intermediate school teachers Laura Paiva and Sean Bonasera, include: Trisha Mukhopadhyay, Fiona Gillespie, Morgan Miovski, Christine Rogers, Linzy Rosen, Saranya Turimella, Ela Ryan and Ashley Rosen. The girls created the team motto: “We don’t just build robots; we build your future.” When awarding the team the Inspiration Award, the judges remarked, “If you looked up inspiration in the dictionary, you would see this team’s smiling faces. Their passion for change has them covering all the FLL bases [Robot Game, Robot Design, Project and Core Values]. They don’t just build robots, they build the future”.
The state competition, held at Mount Olive High School in Flanders, NJ, was originally scheduled for December 2013, but was rescheduled to March 8, 2014 due to snow. During the ensuing three months the girls re-designed their robot, Violet, to create Ultraviolet. The extra work paid off. Competing against approximately 60 teams, robot Ultraviolet scored nearly 5 times the number of points in the robot competition round, as original robot Violet did in the Boroblast in Hillsborough, NJ, the regional qualifying competition, in November 2013. Ultraviolet placed in the top 30% in this portion of the state competition.
Another part of the competition was the presentation of the team’s project to a panel of judges. Purple Sabotage’s project, “Evac App and Pack”, which they developed to help prepare individuals and families for an evacuation, previously captured the award for best project presentation at the Boroblast competition. This award recognizes a team that effectively communicates the problem they have identified and their proposed solution to both the judges and other potential supporters. The Evac App and Pack is meant to be used to track travelers and help with their packing needs. It can also be used to find evacuation centers, routes, and send updates to specific contacts. The Evac App and Pack is an insulated back pack that could be vacuumed sealed to hold food cold for about 2 days. In addition, the back pack has a protective pocket for a mobile hot-spot which could be activated for wireless capability in the event of an emergency.
The Westfield Robotics Club had also had a boys’ FLL team, coached by Edison Intermediate teacher Sean Bonasera, compete in the FLL robotics division this year. The boys’ team, who had a strong performance and gained a lot of experience at the Boroblast competition in November 2013, consisted of Aidan Kilbourn, Sivaji Turimella, Matthew Rock, Eric Elizes and Andrew Kapadia. Their experience will serve them well next year.
The theme this year for the FLL competition season was “Nature’s Fury”. The competition consisted of several parts related to this theme: Robot Game, Robot Design, Project and Core Values. In Robot Game, the robot, constructed from Lego Mindstorm, was programmed to automatically complete a variety of tasks on a Lego course. For example, the robot could rescue Lego people and pets, push an ambulance and truck to safety, hit tsunami waves, put supplies in a safe zone, and others. Points were awarded for each task completed. For the other three categories, teams gave presentations in front of a panel of judges. For Robot Design, teams explained and demonstrated their robot; for Project, teams presented and explained an innovation they created to help in a natural disaster; and for Core Values, teams described how they functioned and worked together as a team.
Both teams are very eager and excited to start planning and fundraising for next year’s competition.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology, and math. Founded over 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the 2013-2014 FIRST season attracted more than 350,000 youth and more than 130,000 Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers from 80+ countries. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $19 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org. The annual programs culminate in an international robotics competition and celebration where teams win recognition, gain self-confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends, and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path.