— Teamwork, cooperation, and respect are what it took for the Avon-based "Invisionaries" robotics team to win the Core Values Award for Gracious Professionalism at the recent FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Championship Tournament. The team received a trophy and medallions for each team member to commemorate their achievement.
FLL is an international program for 9 to 16 year old children (9 to 14 in the U.S. and Canada) created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology - and teach them employment and life skills. Children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program autonomous robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS technologies and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. After eight weeks, the competition season culminates at sports-like tournaments.
Like any other organized "sport," teams also fundraise, create a team identity, and go on field trips.
Children and their coaches from 53 teams gathered at this ITT Exelis-sponsored event, conducted at the Indiana University-Purdue University campus in Fort Wayne to celebrate science and technology and present their solutions to problems faced by the elderly as part of the FLL "Senior Solutions" Challenge.
The competition was judged in four areas: project presentation, robot performance, technical design and programming of the robot, and teamwork, with a consideration of the FLL Core Values.
The Core Values Award for Gracious Professionalism is presented to the team whose members show each other and other teams respect at all times. They recognize that both friendly competition and mutual gain are possible, on and off the playing field. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.
"It has been really impressive to see these kids working together and accomplishing so much in such a short period of time," said Invisionaries coach Herb Denny. "The Invisionaries have only been a team since late August. They advanced at the qualifying tournament in November to go on to compete in the state championship and came home with a first-place award in December. It is my hope that other teams will begin to form in Avon and Hendricks County as a whole. This is a fantastic program for kids who are interested not just in science and technology but also in working on a team and seeing their various skills come alive. There is a little something for everyone."
The team meets in Avon, but currently has team members from Mooresville as well.
"It was really cool how I didn't really know these guys when I first started with the team and then how well I got to know my other team members," said member Drew Langford. "We won this award definitely due to our teamwork and our communication, as well as our communication with the other teams. I was surprised when we won and it feels great."
Other team members include Conner Barnes, Garrett Cagle, Will Denny, Garrett Fehrman, Parrish Fehrman, Logan Howard, Sam Sparzo, Mitchell West, and Cooper Zuranski. They are also coached by Lisa Cagle and John Sparzo.
The Invisionaries are currently seeking sponsorship for their team.
"I think that our costs are relatively modest compared to other sports and activities that are geared towards kids of this age," said Denny. "I believe that for what our kids are getting out of their participation in FLL, we are getting a lot of bang for the buck, however, the robot equipment can be costly. This season we only had one robot and the kids had to learn how to share their time on it. To really be better competitors, we need to have several robots that the kids can use to work on their programming skills simultaneously. We're hoping that we can get some small or large business sponsorship soon so that we can go into next season with more programming experience."
Businesses interested in sponsoring the Invisionaries are encouraged to email Denny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the FLL, visit the website at firstlegoleague.org.