Yorktown’s Team Hot Chocolate took home second place in this year’s First Lego League Tournament hosted at Crompond Elementary School on Saturday, Jan. 18.

The STEM team consisted of fourth-graders Abhay Nayate, Neha Nitta and Abhinav Ravindranath; fifth-graders Saarth Desai, Oindrilla Dey, Dhayashree Ravi and Ryan Zheng, and sixth- graders Akhil Bollimpalli and Vaishnavi Ravindranath.

The team was coached by Nirmit Desai, Prasenjit Dey, Amol Nayate and Ravi Kokku.

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The competition consisted of three parts: the robot game, an innovation project and core values.

In the robot game, the team had to design a robot that was able to navigate an obstacle course, identify objects and perform certain tasks.

The team had to come up with an original idea for an innovation project for this year’s City Shaper Challenge that would help the community.

“The kids are asked to think about their neighborhoods, their towns, their local areas and what problems they see and what they can do to improve the lives of people in that area,” said team coach Nirmit Desai.

With the increasing need for clean energy, the team came up with the idea of harnessing piezoelectricity, transforming movement into usable energy. 

The team designed scenarios in which plates would be installed in heavily used public places, such as parks or playgrounds, to power illumination when they are in use.

Team Hot Chocolate had to research and test its idea, even consulting such experts as Mara Mintzer, co-founder and director of Growing Up Boulder, and Dibyendu Sengupta, a civil engineer and planner.

“You have to solve it, you have to build it, you have to test it, you have to learn from experts, you have to get feedback from the experts and then eventually you have to deploy it in the real world and see how it works,” Nirmit Desai said.

The team even brought the idea to Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli, who posed questions to research and arranged for it to present its idea to the Parks and Recreation Department in February. Students hope to test the electricity idea at town-owned facilities such as Granite Knolls or Jack DeVito Track and Field.

In addition to the STEM opportunities, the First Lego League Tournament taught members of Team Hot Chocolate important core values.

“It’s about team spirit, it’s about competing but also helping others at the same time,” Nirmit Desai said. “Winning is important, but helping others along the way and learning from them and learning to work with them is even more important than winning.”

As runner-up, Team Hot Chocolate is one of two teams from the Crompond tournament to advance to the Hudson Valley Championship at Dutchess Community College on Saturday, Feb. 8.