With teammate Jaelyn Wingard (far back, left) cheering them on, SCH LEGO Lions team members Samantha Deutsch (left) and Nahla Turner (right) experience the thrill of success with the team’s robot during the field competition at the SCH FIRST LEGO League Challenge on Saturday, Dec 1. Three SCH Academy FLL teams will compete at the Penn FLL Championship event on Feb. 9.

For the second year in a row, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy hosted the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Challenge this past Saturday and enjoyed tremendous success alongside fabulous fun.

In addition to a record number of SCH students participating in the competition – 82 students in grades 1 through 8 – three of the eight teams qualifying to move on to the regional competition at the University of Pennsylvania in February were SCH teams.

SCH also boasts big team wins with the Vulcan Robotics boys’ team taking 1st place for Robot Design and the LEGO Lions girls’ team taking 2nd place for Core Values. The Core Values are the eight principles that guide the FLL competition: teamwork, friendly competition, discovery, learning together, Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition®, and fun.

Each year, the competition features a challenge that drives the two aspects of the tournament—the robot game and the project. This year students focused on “Senior Solutions” and were charged with designing a robot that could perform tasks representing independence, engagement, and community connection – things like exercising, turning off a stove, gardening, and woodworking. Each robot had to perform a specific series of tasks in a set amount of time during each round of the field competition.

Each team also designed an invention or solution to help improve the lives of senior citizens. Students began by interviewing a senior citizen to discover what challenges he or she faced growing older. Afraid to carry things upstairs for fear of falling and breaking a bone? SCH LEGO Lion girls’ team designed the “Lift-a-Way,” a specially lit staircase with an escalator belt and traveling basket to carry items upstairs.

Having trouble reading, even with your readers on? Check out the LEGO Lions’ “Read-a-Way,” a hand-held device that scans printed text and images, records it, and reads it back aloud. Having trouble operating that complicated remote control due to diminished vision and arthritis? SCH Vulcan Robotics boys’ team designed a new oversized remote with oversized buttons and a pillow base.

The boys used a new technology offered by the Makey Makey prototype board from MIT Media Lab to create their design, complete with touch-sensitive switches and fewer options than standard remotes.

For seniors having trouble lifting heavy objects into the trunk of their car, another SCH boys’ team designed a folding truck ramp, called “The Tramp,” that fits into any car trunk; the senior simply unfolds it and pushes the item up the ramp and into the trunk.

“The FLL competition is the culmination of weeks of work by dedicated students to solve both the real-world problems of seniors citizens and also the challenges of the robot game,” said Peter Randall, chair of the SCH Engineering and Robotics Department. “It requires research, analysis, and group problem solving that represent the best of an SCH education. I am extremely proud that our boys and girls have risen to the challenge and that three of our teams qualified for the regional championship.”

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