Lego team heads to world championship

Posted on WikedLocal Lexington:

The Battery Powered Picklejar Heads are photographed with their First Place Runner-Up Champion’s Award.

By Jenny Ramseyer/Special to the Minuteman
Posted Dec 22, 2008 @ 10:23 AM
Last update Dec 22, 2008 @ 03:01 PM

First Lego League teams from Lexington scored high marks at the Robonautica Eight State Competition Dec. 20. One of them will head to the world championships in April.

The Llamas won the First Place Robot Performance Award, receiving the highest score in the robot match. The Dork Side of the Force won the Honors Robot Consistency Award (Second place Robot Consistency) because they had the second smallest difference (20 points) between their highest and lowest scores.

The Battery Powered Picklejar Heads won “First Runner Up, Champion’s Award” because they had the second highest overall score of all of the teams in Massachusetts.

The Champion’s Award “…is the most prestigious award that any team can with. It celebrates the ultimate success of the FIRST mission and FLL values … To be considered for the Champion’s Award, teams must perform well in the equally weighted technical and team presentation categories,” according to the First Lego League Web site.

The Battery Powered Pickle Jar Heads came in second out of 64 teams competing at the state level, winning one of only two invitations to the World First Lego League Festival competition in Atlanta, Ga. in April 2009. At the World Festival, they will be 1 of only 84 top teams invited from around the world to compete for the world championship.

In the First Lego League competitions, teams use Lego Mindstorms NXT robots, as well as Lego and Technic pieces, to design a robot and build attachments to complete assigned tasks. The robots must complete a set of specified tasks in 150 seconds, and the team must also complete a project based on the years First Lego League (FLL) theme. This year’s theme is Climate Connections, and the teams connected local climate-related problems to similar problems elsewhere in the world, and discover a new solution to the problem.

The qualifying teams were: The Battery Powered Picklejar Heads, a community team; the Dork Side of the Force, a Lexington Girl Scouts Team; the Lexington Robos, from Harrington Elementary School; the Llamas, from the MIT Lincoln Labs; and the Smokin Robots, also from Lincoln Labs.

These teams all competed in at least one qualifying competition each, and placed high enough to win the right to go to the state competition.

At the North Quincy Qualifying Tournament, The Battery Powered Picklejar Heads received third place in Robot Performance with 135 points, then went on to receive the Runner-Up Champions Award at North Quincy.

The Runner-Up Champion Award is the second-most prestigious award, next only to the Overall Champion Award.

The Dork Side of the Force came in fifth in Robot Performance, with 130, and also won the Against All Odds Award.

The Battery Powered Picklejar Heads won the First Place Research Quality Award at the Blackstone Valley Qualifier. For their Research Project, the Battery Powered Picklejar Heads studied the effects of climate change on the bluefin tuna industry, and came up with a creative solution to the problem of bluefin overfishing and climate change.

In conducting their research, the team consulted with many experts in the tuna field, including Professor Ted Bestor, chairman of the Harvard Anthropology department and leading expert on the Tsukiji fish market. Tsukiji is the main fish market for raw fish in the world.

The team is also featured on the Web site of Dr. Molly Lutcavage, the director of the Large Pelagics Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, at

Jenny Ramseyer is a member of The Battery Powered Picklejar Heads.

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