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Bend LEGO Robotics teams fare well at state

HILLSBORO, Ore. - The Oregon University System is pleased to announce that two Bend-area teams took home awards for robot design and teamwork at the 12th annual Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournaments, presented by Rockwell Collins, held on January 19-20 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

This event brought together 117 teams from across the state and region who have excelled in the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) pre-engineering program, a program which helps young students explore technical fields and careers at an early age.

Oregon boasts one of the largest youth robotics programs for its population in the country, and education and industry representatives are delighted by this burgeoning youth interest in technology and engineering.

A team named American Fish from Cascades Academy of Central Oregon was awarded 1st place in the Garmin Teamwork Award for their ability to accomplish more together than they could as individuals through shared goals, strong  communication, effective problem solving and excellent time management.

American Fish includes students Kamdon Simmons, Jackson Junkins, Lainey Bohnert, Stacey Nicholson, Michael Rowley, Cody VandenBosch, Madison  Kerkmann, Ella Reed, and Ela Lagos who were coached by Lea Hart with the help of Gregg Hoshovsky.

The i-Team, a homeschooled team from Bend, received 2nd place in the Vernier Software & Technology Robot Programming Award for using outstanding  programming principles, including clear, concise and reusable code that allows their robot to perform challenge missions autonomously and consistently.

The i-Team includes Bennett Bury, Tate Bury, Levi Schwarz, Ian Ray, Andrew Scheafer, Eli Vossler, Caleb Ely, and Michael Nyem and they were coached by Tom Bury with the help of Myria Bury and Marty Scheafer.

Bruce Schafer, director of industry affairs for OUS, said "This weekend's teams were so impressive; I have no doubt that Oregon's top future engineers and scientists  were among us. Congratulations to all team members and coaches for the many hours preparing for and participating in this weekend's tournaments. Tremendous thanks to our title sponsor, Intel, to all our corporate and community sponsors, and to the hundreds of tireless mentors and volunteers who have helped hundreds of students discover their interests in technology."

For the last 12 years, the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP) has offered the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL), one of several successful STEM education initiatives that are supported by OUS. Oregon technology  corporations and industry associations collaborate with the OUS, hundreds of volunteers, and major youth organizations to implement the program.

This weekend's tournaments brought together the top 117 teams from around Oregon and SW Washington who excelled at qualifying tournaments in December 2012. Each team of 9-14 year olds constructed and programmed their LEGO robot to compete on various robot missions, presented research on this year's theme, and demonstrated their work to three panels of judges.

The theme for this year's tournaments was "Senior Solutions," which prompted each team to tie their technology interests into a contemporary issue, and to research and develop an innovative solution to improve the quality of life for senior citizens by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their  communities.

In December 2012, over 3000 students on 436 teams participated in qualifying tournaments in Oregon and SW Washington, including teams from home schools, public schools, private schools, and local communities. The top 25% of these teams competed at this weekend's championships.

Each team is made up of four to ten students ages 9-14 who are given about twelve  weeks to prepare for the tournament, including construction, design, and  programming of a small robot, and completion of the required scientific research.  The teams used off-the-shelf LEGO robotics kits to construct working robots, each of which is customized uniquely.

Each year, FLL defines a challenge theme that drives team activities. In this year's  Senior Solutions challenge, the teams also worked with a senior partner form their community as part of their research and challenge to improve the quality of life for
seniors. They developed a presentation describing what they learned about   challenges, and what they recommend to address the problems they have  discovered and described.

On tournament day, the teams compete with their robots, with the goal to complete as many missions as possible on a 4-foot by 8-foot playing field, present and discuss aspects of their research with judges, and showcase their teamwork skills.

For more information on the program go to

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