The “Brainy Bunch,” a First Lego League (FLL) team of six Kilmer Middle School students, won second place overall in the research category last weekend at the FLL World Invitational Open hosted by the University of South Florida and Legoland.
First Lego League is a robotics program for 9 to 16 year olds. It’s a partnership between For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) and the Lego Group.
The competition attracted 61 championship teams from 15 countries around the world, including Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Columbia, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain and the United States.
“The tournament was a vibrant mix of cultures, different approaches to robot design and new approaches to food safety,” team representative Astrid Tisseront wrote in an email.
The Brainy Bunch â€” whose theme song begins “here’s a story, of some kids from Kilmer” â€” earned the honor of representing Virginia and D.C. at the World Festival by winning the first place overall at the Washington, D.C. and Virginia State tournament in December.
This year’s FLL theme challenge was Food Safety. The team integrated the emerging Terahertz technology to detect contaminants in milk along the entire food supply chain, from farm to table. Their Terahertz device has also been entered into a Global Innovation Award competition.
In addition to their research, the students competed in robot competitions. The judges told the team they were impressed by their complex programming, which was used to solve a series of food safety themed robot missions.
After forming an alliance with a team from France, the teams won 1st and 2nd place spots out of 36 teams during the first-ever Robot Derby sub-competition, in honor of the Kentucky Derby.
All six students are headed to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in the fall.