Shelton robotics teams vie for Worlds

Five First LEGO League robotics teams, with students from Perry Hill and Shelton Intermediate schools, will be battling 43 other squads this weekend at Shelton High for the opportunity to compete in the world championships.

The five teams are the Resistors, with seventh and eighth graders from SIS; the Brainiacs, Techniq and Predators, each with fifth and sixth graders from PHS; and Persistence, with one PHS fifth grader with the remainder from SIS. The robotics competition is Saturday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at SHS.

Robotics teams had to earn a “golden ticket” in order to compete in the Dec. 7 state competition. The golden tickets are given to the top 25 percent of all teams from each qualifying event. Winners at the coming competition will earn the right to advance to Worlds in Detroit, Mich., in April.

“I cannot speak highly enough about this program,” said Laurie Vogl, who has been involved with the robotics program for 15 years. “I have seen firsthand the growth and level of maturity and teamwork in each and every student we mentor. This program would not be successful without the dedicated coaches and mentors that guide the students. In my opinion, this is the reason for Shelton’s success.”

The teams receive the robotics challenge in August, said Vogl, and teams of up to 10 are asked to develop solutions to real world challenges with the guidance of adult coaches. Team members are encouraged to use their skills or interests along with a desire to learn and solve problems as a team.

Vogl said this year’s challenge is city shaper, with a focus on transportation, accessibility, or natural disasters.

On Nov. 16, the Resistors and Predators competed in the New Haven regional competition. The Resistors earned the Champion’s Award, the most prestigious honor in the event. Vogl said the Predators did “very well and were neck in neck with the Resistors to the very end. They took home the Research Project Award.”

Vogl said both teams took home a “golden ticket” in New Haven, which advances them to the state competition.

On Nov. 23, Persistance and Techniq were at a competition in Wolcott, while the Brainiacs competed in Shelton. Techniq took home a golden ticket and the teamwork award, while Persistence earned a golden ticket and the robot design award in Wolcott. In Shelton, Brainiacs took home a golden ticket and a core values award.

Vogl said when the teams receive the challenge, there are three parts: the robot game, the innovation project and the core values.

During the robot game, the team will identify missions to solve; design, build and program a LEGO robot to complete the missions; and test and refine the program and design. The robot will have to navigate, capture, transport, activate or deliver objects. The robot will have only 2½ minutes to complete as many missions as possible.

In the innovation project, teams will identify a problem with a building or public space in their community; design a solution; and share their solution with others and then refine it.

At official events, teams present the project, including the problem, the solution, and how it was shared in a five-minute presentation.

In robot design, teams show the judges how the robot was built and programmed; explain how the solutions for design and robot building were discovered; answer judges’ questions about the robot. In robot design, teams explain the robot to the judges and how it was constructed and programmed it.

For core values, teams will be judged on their understanding of the core values and how well they integrate them into their tournaments, group sessions and every day life. Teams complete a hands-on task together and present a poster as a tool to communicate the core values along with the interview questions.