Robotics Tournament Inspires Future Engineers

On Feb. 27, 2022, Cargo Connect was the theme of the annual NPUC FIRST LEGO League Challenge.

Six LEGO robotics teams from around the Northwest traveled to Auburn Adventist Academy for the first in-person event since 2020, and the first ever held at AAA.

Teams came from far and near. The Livingstone Lions and La Grande Adventist Christian School's Snap-Its came from Oregon, while the Tiger Tracks traveled from Lake City Academy in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Representing Western Washington were the Kirkland LEGO Sharks and Forest Park Big Bird’s Busy Builders Western. The Omak Terabyte came from eastern Washington.

Core values, innovation design and robot design are elements of a FLL championship rubric. All six teams had to identify a problem, develop a mission strategy to address the problem then present their work to a panel of volunteer judges 

Within a limited time frame, teams explained their chosen project, the robot’s design and their business plans. In return, the judges gave their critique, and evaluated how they met the tournament rubric. Clear and concise communication was important to demonstrate the ways in which their robots implemented the strategies and performed required tasks.

After lunch and opening ceremonies, teams gathered at the challenge pit for the highlight of the day — the Robot Games. Each team was given three opportunities for their robot to perform the optimal challenge. This is where all their planning and strategies came to fruition.

All six teams had a unique approach to the tournament, and each received awards for various categories.

Team Terabyte won the NPUC FLL Champion award and advance to the North American Division's FIRST LEGO League Championship event. The Snap-Its will join at the event happening in Apoka, Florida on May 1, 2022.

“An event like this couldn’t take place without the help of amazing volunteers”, said Gina Hubin, tournament director. “Our volunteers ranged from professionals from Google, Facebook and Amazon, as well as engineers from other companies in the region.

"Auburn Academy's STEM teachers and students were instrumental in making the event a success for the kids," Hubin added. "It was an honor to have these dedicated teams join us at Auburn for our first time hosting the LEGO Robotics challenge.”

Mel Wade, NAD director of Adventist Robotics, attended the NPUC event. He said, “These programs teach young people engineering, math and computer science skills in addition to innovation and life skills like identifying and solving problems, teamwork and communication — just to name a few. We don’t use kids to build robots, we use robots to build kids!

As one team member described LEGO Robotics — "it's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"

An even larger event is planned for the 2023 event on Feb. 26, 2023 at AAA. School teams, homeschool groups, robotics clubs and Pathfinder clubs are invited to start planning. If you're interested in participating in the LEGO Robotics, please contact Gina Hubin at gina.hubin@auburn.org or visit www.adventistrobotics.net/volunteer.

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