CHATHAM, NJ - A group of Chatham students from Lafayette Avenue School and Chatham Middle School is headed to the First LEGO League (FLL) New Jersey State Championship.

The team, the Bright Builders, competed against 43 teams from Northern New Jersey at Saturday’s FLL Qualifying Tournament in Clifton, to secure their spot in the Dec. 9 state finals.

The Bright Builders, made up of 5th graders, Lori BoydAmelie HettiarachchiEva MarrinanMishal Masud, and Giovanna Yanes and 8th-grade mentor, Aidan Marrinan, designed, built and programmed their LEGO Mindstorms robot to overcome obstacles and complete specific tasks.

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The team, coached by Sean Marrinan, Cindy Marrinan, and Joanie Yanes, and mentored by Michael Boyd, has worked on the project since September. In addition to their high robot game score, the Bright Builders also won the Champion’s Award at the qualifying event. This award recognizes the top two teams that embody the First Lego League spirit, by fully embracing the Core Values, while achieving excellence in innovation in both the Robot Game and the Project.

For this year's project challenge, the team came up with the innovative solution of an eco-friendly car wash that runs on renewable energy and significantly reduces nutrient pollution and water consumption.

The First Lego League focuses on increasing STEM skills in students age 9-14. This year’s FLL Challenge, Hydro Dynamics, centers on finding innovative ways to improve the way people find, transport, use, or dispose of water.