The Panther Power Robotics Team from the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in New Providence came in Second Place for Innovative Solution! They competed in the FIRST LEGO League North American Open Championships at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, California on May 16-18, 2014.

This year’s theme of “Nature’s Fury” took on a whole new meaning as wildfires in the San Diego area nearly caused the competition to be canceled. Luckily, it was brought under control and the competition went on as planned.

On Saturday, May 17, the robotics team went into the Project/Presentation Judging Room where they presented their innovative solution – The Stickler of Safety, or SOS. The device - which is made of PVC pipe and has markings of blue, orange, and yellow (see attached photo) - can help first responders gauge depth of flood waters, as well as find obstructions in the water or open manholes. Thanks to a grant, the Panthers have made more SOSs that have been donated to local police and first responders for use.

Sign Up for E-News

During this portion of the competition, teams are evaluated on their Presentation, Research and Innovative Solution. Immediately following this was the Robot Judging. Here, teams are scored on the Mechanical Design, Programming, Strategy, and Innovation. Later that afternoon, 16 teams were announced for callbacks in the areas of both Robot and Project/Presentation. Panther Power was one of the 16 teams called back in the area of Project!

On Sunday, May 18, the team competed in the area of Core Values and the big Robot competition. At the end of the day, a huge rally was held. At that time the winners were announced. Panther Power took Second Place for their Innovative Solution!

“The judges were sold by the fact that the Stickler of Safety is a great tool,” says Coach  Alys Tyler, “and they were impressed by the fact police and first responders are already using the SOS.”

The Academy of Our Lady of Peace was one of only two Catholic schools in the country that competed in the national championship. The team was up against 76 other schools from the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Korea.