Special to the Independent
Given the fact that Everett middle schoolers were making their inaugural appearance in the First Lego League (FLL) competition, they could have been forgiven for not giving too much thought to results.
Then again …
The Everett Public Schools enjoyed a smashing debut in the First Lego League regional competition on Saturday, December 10, at Revere High School. Two of the six teams the EPS sent to Revere earned high enough scores to qualify for the FLL Robotics State Championship, set for Saturday, December 17th at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
Madeline English Team No. 1, coached by Bruce Jaffe and Jennifer Cavaleiri, finished fifth out of 36 teams from communities including Weston, Andover, Wellesley, Reading, Milton, Saugus, Quincy, Boston, and others. The Whittier Team, coached by Dawn Munro and Michelle Conkin, earned a 9th-place honor. Both are bound for Worcester, where they will showcase their coding skills against teams from across the Commonwealth.
The Madeline English Team No. 2 and Lafayette School team placed 11th and 13th, respectively, just missing out on qualifying for the State Championship by a hair. Most importantly, all of Everett’s teams, students, and coaches had an enjoyable time preparing for the regional competition and experiencing the fun and collegial atmosphere of an FLL event.
“Our mentors stated that it is rare for a first-year team to qualify for state championships, but we did it not only with one team but with two!” said EPS K-8 STEM Director Rupi Kaur. “We are very proud of the accomplishments of all of our students and coaches who participated in the Robotics Competition.”
In total, the EPS had 46 students and 10 coaches at the regional tournament — two from the Madeline English and one each from the Keverian, Lafayette, Madeline English, and Parlin schools. Tori Milano and Christie Mercuri coach the Keverian team, James Santerre and Tenzin Lhadon lead the Lafayette team, and Brian Benson and Alessandro Cornelio coach the Parlin team.
FLL Challenge teams engage in research, problem-solving, coding and engineering by building and programming a LEGO Spike Prime robot so it can perform specific tasks. In addition to the Challenge, teams also participate in a research project to identify and solve a relevant real-world problem.
“Congratulations to these students and teachers for their hard work and enthusiasm,” said Superintendent Priya Tahiliani. “We were thrilled to launch an after-school robotics program for our middle school students, and it has been more popular and successful than we could have imagined.”
The Superintendent added that the district is planning to enhance its robotics club offerings in the spring and next school year, both by expanding opportunities in grades 6-8 and adding programs for different grade levels.
The teams bound for Worcester are hard at work this week refining the code and preparing their robots for the State Championship.