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“The Knights of the Lego Table” take crown for Shrewsbury at FLL Tournament

SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – “The Knights of the Lego Table” were crown first-place champions at the Blackstone Valley FIRST Lego League (FLL) Tournament on November 17, 2012.  Fifty-nine FLL teams competed at the tournament held at Blackstone Valley Technical School in Upton, MA on a sunny Saturday.

Members of the winning team are: Scott Sheffield of Northborough a 9th grader at the Advanced Math and Science Academy (AMSA), Alden Vedder of Shrewsbury  an 8th grader at AMSA, Zarius Dubash of Shrewsbury an 8th grader at AMSA, and Linus Adler of Shrewsbury a 4th grader at Patton Elementary School.  The team is coached by John Vedder of Shrewsbury who is coaching FLL teams for his sixth year.

This year’s FLL challenge had a theme of “Senior Solutions.”  Each team worked with a senior citizen partner and other experts to identify a problem that senior citizens face and to create an innovative solution to the problem.   At the tournament, teams competed in many areas.  First, they operate  an autonomous robot they have previously built out of Lego to perform specific tasks.  They present an informative and entertaining research project and communicate their technical knowledge of the mechanical and programming aspects of their robot to a panel of judges.  Finally, they must complete a surprise challenge and are judged on how well they work as a team.

At the end of the day-long competition, “The Knights of the Lego Table” were awarded a trophy for the First Place Champions Award — the highest honor you can win at an FLL tournament.   This has earned the “The Knights” a chance to compete in the Massachusetts State Championship Tournament on December 15 with 83 other teams from across the state.

For their research project, The Knights identified that due to poor memory, seniors may leave food in the refrigerator too long and allow it to spoil.  Ingesting spoiled food can lead to food poisoning.  They developed an automatic timer that can be placed on food containers to display how many days the item has been in the refrigerator.  The timer starts automatically when it detects the temperature drop and can also indicate if an item has been left out too long.  The Knights built a working prototype of this timer using a microcontroller, thermistor, and LCD display.

After receiving the trophy, Linus Adler stated, “Winning the Champions award did not seem real” and Alden Vedder added “It was really exciting”.   The team will continue to meet three times a week as they prepare for the state tournament.

FIRST is an acronym for “For Inspiration and Recombination of Science and Technology.”  The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.   The FLL mission is to get children ages 9 to 14 excited about science and technology.  To learn more about FIRST visit their website at www.usfirst.org

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