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Brick Torrent team wins First Lego League regionals

Feb 22, 2017 03:27PM ● Published by Kelly Cannon

Members of Brick Torrent pose with their awards at the First Lego League regionals. The team won the Champion’s Award and the Robot Performance Award and will be competing at state. (Gretta Bohn/Brick Torrent)

By Kelly Cannon | kelly@mycityjournals.com
 
A local group of kids has won a regional robotics competition and is headed to the state championship. Regionals were held on Jan. 14 at Albion Middle School in Sandy. The Draper-based team, called Brick Torrent, won the Champion’s Award and the Robot Performance Award.
 
Brick Torrent consists of 10 kids, ages 9–13, who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math. Gretta Bohn, 11, joined Brick Torrent because she wants to be an engineer.
 
“First Lego League is the preparation for a great future because you get into an engineering state,” Gretta said. “That’s wat FLL is about, good skills. Not just engineering skills or math skills but life skills.”
 
FLL competitions are based on two events: robot performance and a project. For robot performance, the group works together to build a robot out of Legos that will accomplish different tasks. At the competitions, the teams try to complete the tasks both efficiently and as quickly as they can. For the project, the team has to develop a project idea that fits the year’s theme. The project is then presented to a panel of judges. 
 
Each year, FLL announces a theme to the year’s competition. This year’s theme was “Animal Allies,” an examination of animal interactions. During the robot performance, the Lego robots have to complete different tasks, such as giving prosthetic legs to a pig, feeding different animals, milking a cow and collecting honey from a hive.
 
Twelve-year-old Elliot Uffens was the lead engineer for the robot. The team designed the robot to have a base component with different “jigs” that could be put on and taken off depending on which task needed to be completed.
 
“We found the tasks that had the most points and built the jigs and put them on in order,” Elliot said. “We invented different attachments that would interact with the different tasks.”
Each team has only two minutes and 30 seconds to complete as many tasks as possible. Brick Torrent went the extra mile and built the robot to lift itself off the ground at the end of the round.
 
“If you end the game with the robot off the ground, you get extra points,” Elliot said. “We have a high gear replacement but it’s worth it.”
 
Brick Torrent won the Robot Performance Award, meaning they scored the most points during their round.
 
For the project part of the competition, the team decided to tackle the issue of deer/automobile accidents. According to Gretta, over $1 billion is spent in the United States on car repairs, medical bills and street repairs from deer collusions, in addition to 105 annual fatalities.
 
The team came up with an infrared camera that can see in the dark and send audio notifications to your phone, alerting drivers of objects coming up. The camera is set to specific parameters so it will only alert the driver if the object is large enough to be dangerous.
“This is how we can make the world a better place,” Gretta said. “FLL is a great thing to do because you get ready to make the world a better place.”
 
Another key component of FLL is teamwork. Brick Torrent came up with the acronym “creampie” to explain their core values of teamwork. Creampie stands for creative, respectful, eager, appreciative, mindful, preserving, inclusive and enthusiastic.
 
The team won the Champion’s Award, an award that recognizes a team that embodies the First Lego League experience by fully embracing the core values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the robot game and the project.
 
Leading up to the regional championship, Brick Torrent held several extra practices to not only ensure the robot would work as it was designed to but also to rehearse the presentation for the project.
 
“We usually only practice on Saturdays,” Gretta said. “We’ve been doing it differently the last couple of weeks.” 
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