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Heritage outpaces all Alabama teams in LEGO robotics tourney

Members of the Firestorm team from Heritage position their robot for the next round at the Alabama State FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Tournament. (CONTRIBUTED)
Members of the Firestorm team from Heritage position their robot for the next round at the Alabama State FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Tournament. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Heritage Elementary School’s LEGO robotics teams won more awards than any elementary or middle school at the Alabama State FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Tournament.

Thirty-four teams entered the state meet, held at Grissom High School on Jan. 25, Heritage coach and gifted education specialist Laura Minor said.

From qualifying tournaments, two Heritage teams advanced to state. The 16 Minutes team includes Jeremy Anderson, Lauren Assaf, Emma Drake, Jackson Lanier, Michael Pagan-Selby and Duke Yeom.

Firestorm members are Colin Beyersdorf, Neil Chaudhary, Lane Chatterton, Vishay Ram, Jake Strickland and Steve Yoon.

The 16 Minutes team was runner-up to the Alabama State Champions Award, proving “they had the best overall project, robot runs and design,” Minor said. “They were the ‘total package,’ just a few points shy of winning the state title.”

In addition, 16 Minutes placed second in “Best Robot Performance.”

Heritage’s “Firestorm” team won the Gracious Professionalism Award, recognizing their mature communication and research/knowledge gained during the project. Firestorm “demonstrated a high level of respect for others and had great integrity,” she said.

For the tournament theme, “Nature’s Fury,” students researched natural disasters for months and developed solutions to address problems occurring from a natural disaster.

In addition, Heritage students learned to program an NXT or EV3 robot with LEGO Mindstorms supplies. “The robot ultimately had to run on a board of ‘disaster’ challenges, attempting to score the highest point value in three rounds of 2.5 minutes,” Minor said.

To discuss their programs and overall strategy, students presented their robot design to a team of judges.

“Thanks to Laura Minor and her parent volunteers for such great work with these students. Go Rams,” Heritage Principal Dr. Georgina Nelson said.

For their hard work, Minor thanked parent volunteers David and Sydney Assaf with 16 Minutes and Dan Strickland and Subha Ram with Firestorm.

“I’m very pleased with the teams’ dedication and enthusiasm throughout the season,” Minor said. “They’re amazing students who love learning. I know their futures will be bright.”

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