Robotic Success in FLL Competition

Members of the Anti-Gravity Narwhals robotics team poses for a selfie on Nov. 20 at the FLL Robotics Competition (photo submitted)
Members of the Anti-Gravity Narwhals robotics team poses for a selfie on Nov. 20 at the FLL Robotics Competition (photo submitted)

Late on a Saturday night, sixth grader Lucy Fajatin baked brownies. It was part of a deal she had made with the programmers on her robotics team, and she wasn’t going to back down from it now. The competition was the next morning and she was a mix of excited and nervous.

A couple of miles away, eighth graders Emily Zhang and Kylie Mills were preparing for the next day’s competition as well. They were attempting some last-minute programming changes, hoping their efforts would increase their team’s chances to go to the State competition.

“Our team was quirky,” said Fajatin, who was teammates with Zhang and Mills on the Anti-Gravity Narwhals. “We were pretty much weird in our own way and still a team.”

Robotics at Barnwell started nine years ago with eight boys. Now almost 70 kids fill the gym every Thursday for practice.

“[I enjoy seeing] the skills students acquire by participating in the robotics program and the moment they come together as a team,” robotics sponsor Heather Tomicich said.

In a recent FIRST Lego League competition, Hex Tech was dubbed most successful out of the six teams from Barnwell, capturing the Global Innovation Award. The Global Innovation Award is awarded to the team whose research project judges feel could someday be sold in stores. Teams then have the chance to write an essay to convince a new round of judges that their project should be funded and that they should earn the chance to present their idea to the President of the United States.

“We didn’t think that research was our strongest part, we thought our programming was,” eighth grader Kaleb Kruse said. “So you can imagine our surprise. We were jumping up and down and we took a picture with our award afterwards.”

The other teams did well too. Here are their top scores:

• Hex Tech-72 and the Global Innovation Award

• Anti-Gravity Narwhals- 36

• Funky Pandas-35 and Robot Design Award

• Eggo My Lego- 33 and the Robot Design Award

• Bionic Bulldogs- 30

• Mind Twisters-30

Hex Tech and the other five teams are now looking toward winter where they will compete in the GM competition.

“I really love the thrill of competitions,” Zhang said.

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