West Ranch Holds Annual Robotics Compition

On Sunday, Nov. 24, West Ranch hosted the Los Angeles Region’s For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology LEGO League (FLL) Santa Clarita Valley FLL Qualifying Tournament. Elementary and junior high school students from around the valley competed for a spot in the Los Angeles Region FLL Championship Tournament in Torrance, Calif. After team check-in and the opening ceremony, the competition began.

The theme for this year’s tournament was Nature’s Fury. Students were tasked with building a robot from LEGOs and LEGO Mindstorm’s EV3 robotic technology. The robots had two minutes and 30 seconds to overcome obstacles that would be faced in a natural disaster. Teams earned points for each mission completed.

“The main focus of the competition is programming,” said FLL Treasurer Janny Zhang. “There was also a mechanical aspect.”

Each team also had to make and present a project. The assignment was to create an innovative idea and solution to solve a world dilemma.

“Our problem was typhoons in the Philippines, so we invented a Buoy Assisted Typhoon trap,” said Pico Canyon Elementary student Kyle Hardnett.

The small gym served as a pit area for the competitors. Here, they could test their robots on the six practice fields that were available for use during the tournament. Each team also had a table set up as their home base where they could set up a computer and program their robot. After preparing since the first months of school, the competitors would be able to see their creation go to work.

The large gym held the main event where an overhead screen showed the scores of each team. Four competition fields were set up on tables with the obstacles and challenges each teams robot had to complete.

Hart District Robotics team Project 691 also had a station with two robots, BlueBot and Mostly Harmless, on display. Mostly Harmless, built in 2012, used a Kinect to detect certain objects and show them on a screen. BlueBot was very popular among the children attending the competition, as they got the chance to interact with machine; when they threw a ball into BlueBot, it would throw it back at them.

At the end of the competition, team members and parents eagerly waited in the bleachers for the awards ceremony. Before the awards were announced, each team was called down to be congratulated and received medals.

In first place for the Robot Performance award was the Crazy Bots from San Gabriel. The Walden School of Opportunity and the Brick Busters from Canyon Country followed for second and third place. The Core Values Award was given to Pinecrest Elementary team [Insert Name Here] with the Rancho Pico Rebel Robots and Rosemont Middle School’s Space Time and Energy for second and third place. Sequoyah School took first place for the Project Award. Pinecrest Elementary School’s Inner Wookie and the Brick Busters form Canyon Country were awarded second and third place. The final award was the Champion’s Award presented to the Pico Canyon Cyber Huskies.

Not every team came out on top, but each participant was guaranteed a bright future ahead. These young minds will be able to take what they have learned at this competition and use it for future endeavors.