LIVINGSTON, NJ — After a round of challenging tournaments in November, two teams from the Livingston Robotics Club (LRC) advanced and competed in the North Jersey FIRST LEGO League (FLL) State Championship in December.

During the championship, 60 qualified teams from northern New Jersey competed in three judging areas (project, robot design and Core Values) and a three-round robot game. Both based in Livingston, LRC teams 3ngineers and RoboRocks are competing in FLL for the very first time.

“They extended the impressive track records of LRC at FLL competitions and showed great potential for the upcoming years,” said LRC’s Surasit Nithikasem.

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This year, the competition had an "Animal Allies" theme about animal-and-human interactions, in which Nithikasem said the two rookie teams established their grounds following many LRC teams that have succeeded at state, national and international levels in previous years.

“Both improved their robot game performances from the qualifying tournaments and earned 12th and 13th places in robot game scores respectively at the State Championship,” he said.

After winning the tournament’s highest honor for the most well-around team—the Champion’s Award—as well as the 1st-place robot game performance at the qualifier at Sparta in November, 3ngineers took home the Judges Award from the State Championship. The team’s project included using a drone to provide tracking and communication to rangers to stop poachers from killing African rhinos.

Members of 3engineers include Logan Slavin of Livingston, Aarav Mulinti and Kavin Sawant of Parsippany coached by Jay Slavin, Chandu Mulinti and Sachin Sawant.

Team RoboRocks won a Core Values award and the 1st-place robot game performance at the Clifton qualifier in November.

“At the State Championship, they had a great time presenting their fun and innovative prototype, the Deer-Off Dog, that can be programmed to use lights and sounds to scare deer away from the backyards,” said Nithikasem. “They also connected with and learned from other teams, including a team from Princeton with the same name of RoboRocks.”

LRC's RoboRocks has five 4th graders from Livingston elementary schools, including Kevin Zhang, Shining Wang, Isabelle Gao, Valentina Zheng and Hannah Shi, and Grant Zhou from Millburn. Their coaches are Jim Wang and Geoffrey Zheng of Livingston.

The LRC is a K-12 community-based science and robotics organization with more than 100 student members from Livingston and surrounding towns. The students are coached by more than 30 volunteer parents and mentors.

The club seeks to actively take part in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education with hands-on project-based learning.

The current FLL season for LRC has concluded, but the club is gearing up to open the FLL Jr. season for children ages 6-9 in January 2017 leading up to the Expo in May 2017 at the Livingston Oval.

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