A robotic team from Santa Barbara, “The Da Vincibles”, competed in The FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League (FLL) Challenge in Camarillo, this past Saturday and came out with The Champions’ Award. The team which consists of: James Deacon, Julia Deacon, Ciara Giordani, Benjamin Helkey, Kyle Kovacs and Chloe Shott began their long road to success in March 2010. The coaches are Craig Shott, Janet Deacon and John Deacon (who still had time to run in the Santa Barbara marathon) have been pre-planning since January.

Benjamin Helkey, Chloe Shott, James Deacon, Julia Deacon, Ciara Giordani, Kyle Kovacs

The Champions’ Award is the most prestigious award that a team can win in FLL. It celebrates the ultimate success of the FIRST Mission and the FLL Core Values. These champions were recognized for their passion to inspire and motivate others about the excitement of science and technology, problem solving, working as a team and demonstrating respect and Gracious Professionalism. The Champions’ Award is based on all four areas of competition equally: Teamwork, Project, Robot Design and Robot Performance.

Every September for the last 11 years, FLL releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic. Each Challenge has two parts: the Robot Game and the Project. Teams participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game) and by developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project). This year’s theme was bioengineering. Through the 2010 Body Forward™ Challenge, FLL teams explore the cutting-edge world of Biomedical Engineering to discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body’s potential, with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives.

Not only did The Da Vincibles LEGO robot, which they have affectionately named The Mona Roba, score the most points out of all the other 36 teams’ robots; they also won first place for Robot Design, second place for their Research Project and seventh place for Teamwork. The judges said so many nice things about The Da Vincibles as the awards were being presented, but what is unique about this team is that only two of them attend the same school. They met through different outside interests and have really hit it off as teammates and friends. They started sharing their individual biomedical research with each other in March. Then, started getting together for field trips in May, and finally started holding regular robotic meetings in June. The months and months of research, attending 13 biomedical related field-trips, and the hours and hours of LEGO robotic work really paid off.

They are headed to The Los Angeles Region FLL Championship Tournament which will be held on Saturday, December 18, 2010. This contest serves Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties in Southern California. The overall winner of the Champions’ Award will likely qualify to compete at the FIRST LEGO World Festival in St. Louis, Missouri, April 27-30, 2011.


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