MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Peck School in Morristown fielded three teams at last weekend’s FIRST Lego League Regional Robotics Competition in Clifton, NJ. All three teams were great ambassadors for Peck and one team – Peck’s first ever all-girl robotics team - won a Core Values award and will progress to the state-level tournament on December 9.

Judges rate teams in three categories at FIRST Lego League competitions. They are rated on the overall concept of their project, on the design of their robot, and on “Core Values” – which are the cornerstone of the FIRST Lego League program. As the FIRST website explains, “By embracing the Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.”

At competitions, officials present the Core Values Award to teams that “best demonstrate extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit, inspiration, exceptional partnership, and the upmost respect to its own teammates and in its support and encouragement of fellow teams.” What better way to describe the ethos and school culture Peck students demonstrate every day. In delivering the award to the Peck students, the judges remarked, "With absolutely incredible communication, this team was able to overcome and resolve conflicts with ease. Keep up the great work and never stop working together. We can't wait to see what this team will accomplish in the future."

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With the team name “PeckBots”, Janet Pearce, Megan Wu, Kay Lyon, Heidi Pearce, Scarlette Liftin, Gianna Piloto, and Harini Venkatesh scored a near perfect rating in this values category. They also scored a high rating for their robot design. To do well in the state competition, they will continue to refine the project component by sharing their innovative solution to a hydrodynamic problem with the wider community.

Each year FIRST releases a challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic.  Competitors from around the world attempt to innovate a solution using robotics. This year, the competition is all about water – how we find, transport, use, or dispose of it. Team PeckBots chose the delivery of water in rural areas as their problem and developed a robot that can enter pipes, detect leaks, and repair them using a safe and cost-effective sealant. They students have also decided to support the charitable efforts of The Water Project. They have created a fundraising page for the organization and are asking for help in reaching their $1500 goal to provide clean water for about 44 people in a remote area.

Peck’s youngest team of all 5th grade boys placed 17 out of 43 teams in the robot races. Quite an impressive finish for their first outing -- members are Will Pertsemlidis, Dominick Beck, Ethan Tai, Edmund Weng, Carson Young, Max Kim, Jackson Breaks, Steven Lytle and Joaquin Stevenson.

Pec’s third team was supportive and great team players throughout -- Members are Chris Keating, Alex Downey, Franklin Mau, Jack Manahan, James Thomas, Justin Allen, Thatcher Neville, Zach Kalafer and Colin Pryma.

All teams owe a debt of gratitude to their faculty advisors, Genny Elias-Warren, Bruce Schwartz, Kevin Grieshaber, and Lee Collik.

“For all involved, it was a long, exhausting, yet exhilarating day. Peck Robotics has a wonderful future!” concluded Bruce Schwartz, Peck’s new Director of the Idea and Design Lab.