Third season’s the charm – The Emerson Challengers advance to FIRST LEGO State Championship

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Members of The Emerson Challengers monitor their robot’s performance on the qualifying event’s challenge table.




The Emerson Challengers robotics team put on a performance during last weekend’s Dublin Robotics FIRST LEGO League (FLL) District Qualifier that earned the group its first trip to compete for a state championship.

The team, coached by Emerson Elementary teachers Jeffrey Miltko and Beth Dalin, is comprised of seven students from Westerville City School District elementary and middle schools: Helen Ghitescu and Lincoln Haman (Emerson 5th graders), Ali Washburn (Blendon 6th grader), Addie Gurgiolo (Heritage 6th grader), Adam Kauh and Evan Pate (Walnut Springs 7th graders), and Luke Haman (Walnut Springs 8th grader). All participating middle school students also attended Emerson Elementary School.

This is the team’s third season competing in FLL and first time they reached the second round of a regional tournament. The team placed 7th out of 24 teams and advanced to compete in the Ohio FLL State Championship, which will be held in Dayton on February 1-2.

During FLL competitions, teams must present a research project and complete robot game missions, all while practicing the core values of Coopertition (sic) and Gracious Professionalism. For the robot game, students construct and program a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot to complete various missions on a 4' x 8' challenge table during a 2 1/2 minute competition run. The project requires them to identify a problem relating to the theme, which for this year is CITY SHAPER; devise a solution; and share that solution with others. Teams present their projects, robot design, and programming strategies to a panel of judges for evaluation.

Final results take into consideration each team’s achievements in all four areas: project, robot game, robot design, and core values. The Emerson Challengers’ project, the Solar Light Bike Box, uses a combination of solar power and weighted pressure plates to provide environmentally-friendly lighting for Westerville’s bike paths. Judges commended the team on its research, teamwork, and the simple functionality of their robot.