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Rocklin robotics team fares well at Lego qualifier tournament

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Local robotics team Tech Tofu competed at a FIRST Lego League Qualifier Tournament Nov. 18 at Intel, Folsom, and was one of nine other teams(out of 16) that will move on to the next level of competition.

In FLL, children are immersed in real-world science and technology challenges. Teams design their own solution to a current scientific question or problem and build autonomous LEGO robots that perform a series of missions. Through their participation, children develop valuable life skills and discover exciting career possibilities while learning that they can make a positive contribution to society.

"At the tournament, we compete as well as cooperate with the other teams and that is lots of fun,” said team member Nathaniel Daniel.

"It was a fun experience and we learned a lot from the other teams there,” added team member Ronak Brar.

All the teams are judged in three main areas - project, core values and robot design. This year's project is called "Senior Solutions" The team had to interview a senior, identify a problem, do research and come up with a solution for this problem. They then had to share this solution with others. Tech Tofu came up with the idea of concealing a fall detection device in a robotic pet to overcome senior resistance to the device. They shared this solution at the Rocklin Library on Nov. 16 and received a positive response from their audience.

For the robot game, the team had to design and build a robot using the Lego Mindstorms kit to complete missions within the time limit of two and a half minutes. The team did well, ranking fourth. They were also judged on their robot's design.

For the core values, the team was given a problem-solving activity to see how they worked together to come up with a solution. Although they are a rookie team, Tech Tofu, managed to wow the judges with their teamwork and received the "Core Values" award. FLL presents this award to the team that best demonstrates extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit, exceptional partnership, gracious professionalism and the utmost respect to its own teammates and its support and encouragement of fellow teams.

"This team embodies teamwork by chopping up activities between all of them,” according to the judges’ report. “Their polite interaction exhibits gracious professionalism, which brightens the day like a rising sun to the FLL competition day." The rising sun is a reference to Tech Tofu's team logo.

The team was coached by Lisa and Brandt Woodford (project) and Anjali Grover (robot game and design).

"FLL is great because it gets young people excited about science & technology,” Brandt Woodford said. “They are seriously challenged, yet have so much fun accomplishing their goals."