Shelton Intermediate School’s robotics team, the SIStematic, won first place at the 2016 Connecticut State First Lego League Championship on Dec. 4 at Shelton High School. The high school bleachers roared with applause when family and friends, teachers and administrators, along with robotic fans, heard the team would be advancing to compete in the FLL World Championship.
It was a colorful afternoon as children from across Connecticut schools wore bright T-shirts, carried boxes of bright Legos and their robots, and wore fun hats reflecting their team spirit, some sporting horns, balls, and even fishes and a squid.
SIStematic coach Ashish Dalvi was uncertain of the team’s chance to win earlier in the event. However, the coach beamed with pride while praising his team after it was announced it took first place, earning the opportunity to advance to the world championship in April 2017.
“Earlier today I told you we didn’t get a good score, but I guess putting everything together — the project, the core values, and just the way the team has come together, and the points they put in — that is what gave them the awards that they got,” Dalvi said. “Getting the Championship Award is the best thing to happen to this team, and I am sure the kids will be excited to go to St. Louis because that is where the world championship is going to be.”
The SIStematic consists of Dalvi’s daughter, Ria Dalvi, as well as Diya Patel, Austin D’Auzilio, Josh Mallette, Shayaan Dabiran, Katie Daxner, Michael Caruso, and Connor Dapp. All are eighth grade students at Shelton Intermediate School.
The auditorium bleachers were packed with players and parents watching their children and teams presenting their robots in design, programming, research, and performance. Although the different teams won awards for being the best in particular categories, emcee Mike Gentry said the Championship Award, which he called prestigious, goes to the team that, in the big picture, is the strongest in the categories combined.
“The Champions Award winner is the total package, the embodiment of First Lego League vision,” Gentry said. “The Champions Award encompasses four key elements of Technical and Team performance Award, Robot Design, Robot Performance Score, Project Presentation, and Core Values. In addition, Directors Award honors the team’s understanding and practice of the true meaning of First Lego League.”
The SIStematic team ran down the bleachers to the thunderous sound of applause to line up and smack hands with the judges, coaches, and other team players as it took first prize. Parents, friends and family members greeted the team with hugs, high fives and fist pounds. The teammates hugged each other, while some cried from disbelief and relief.
The other two Shelton robotic teams, the Brainiacs and the Predators, competed at the state tournament, too. Each team player from each team received a medal for making it to state competition. John Niski, athletics adviser for Shelton, commented on the SIStematics’ win.
“It is so exciting for these kids. This is such a great group of kids, and I am so happy for them. They work so hard, and they just worked together and that’s what this program is all about,” Niski said. “I’m so happy for them. It’s very, very exciting.”