2017-01-12 / News

5 local teams vying for robotics title

Jamestown Robowolves Ella Junge and Charlie Elsworth reposition their robot during a FIRST LEGO League qualifier at the Gordon School. The Robowolves, who are defending state champions, won the top award at the November tournament. Photo by Paulette Junge Jamestown Robowolves Ella Junge and Charlie Elsworth reposition their robot during a FIRST LEGO League qualifier at the Gordon School. The Robowolves, who are defending state champions, won the top award at the November tournament. Photo by Paulette Junge Nearly 500 elementary students and middle-schoolers from across the state will compete Saturday in the FIRST LEGO League’s state championship, including five teams from Jamestown.

The theme of this year’s tournament is “animal allies.” Since September, students have been building and programing autonomous robots to improve the relationship between humans and wildlife. The robots will navigate across a playing field and score points for completing tasks.

The championship is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Roger Williams University in Bristol.

The FIRST LEGO League is a hands-on enrichment program that combines the excitement of robotics with a scientific research project. In the Ocean State, the league is managed by Rhode Island Students of the Future, a nonprofit organization that promotes the STEAM curriculum through robotics. Students focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math during the competitions.

Among a field of 81 teams, 40 qualified for Saturday’s tournament, including the defending champions, the Jamestown Robowolves. Mike Junge coaches the neighborhood team. The Robowolves advanced by winning first place at the Nov. 19 tournament at the Gordon School in Providence.

The other four teams from town are based at Lawn School: Zack and the 7 C’s, the Patriot Pandas, the Wily Coyotes and the Radical Rainbow Robosses. While Zack and the 7 C’s won the project award at the Dec. 10 tournament hosted by the Aquidneck Island Robotics 4-H club, the Robosses advanced to the championship by finishing runners-up at the All Saints Academy competition.

At the action-packed tournament, teams will compete in two-minute matches to earn as many points on the playing field, which is made entirely of Legos.

During the judging sessions, students will present their research and innovative solutions to professionals who work with the animal kingdom.

Awards will be given for robot design, game strategy, research quality and teamwork. Besides the state championship, the winner also will be eligible to compete in the world festival in April, which brings together teams from 80 countries.

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