A second middle-school robotics team from TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas has won first place in its qualifying tournament in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition. The TMI Pink Panthers team won the Champions Award at their qualifying tournament, held Feb. 4 at Briscoe Middle School. The previous week, another TMI robotics team, the Rowdy Robots, won the same honor at their tournament in Fredericksburg.
The wins qualify both teams to advance to the FLL Alamo Championships-West competitions, to be held March 12 at Metzger Middle School, where they will compete for a single spot to advance to the FLL World Championship the following month in Houston.
FLL competition involves a presentation of an engineering project using the LEGO Mindstorms robotics system Teams create robots to complete as many table-top missions as possible in a two-and-a-half minute game, during which students have to quickly change their robot’s attachment and run the correct program in a short period of time.
This year’s FLL competition theme is Animal Allies. For their projects, teams had to find a solution that was beneficial to the relationship between animals and humans. The Pink Panthers designed a biodegradable packaging material made from barley, wheat and mycellum (a fungus) to replace plastic grocery bags to reduce injury to see turtles and other sea life that can mistake grocery bags for jellyfish. The Rowdy Robots created an automated fish-tank window cleaner that causes less stress on fish and other aquatic animals.
The Pink Panthers won first place in their qualifier for the second year in a row. Members are: Juan Pablo Cajiga-Pena, Larissa Esparza, Sebastian Flores, Chloe Harthan, Benjamin Jimenez, Ryan Kyle, Sean Power and Will Walsh. Rowdy Robots members are: Tyler Cunningham, Ashton Dietzmann, John Fera. Tres Gaiser, Mikae Mumme, Jacob Perez, Trey Rucker and Newton Tran.