On Saturday, January 7 2023, South Jersey Innovation Center’s (SJIC) robotics team, the Innovators, competed for the first time in First Lego League

This year’s theme was SUPERPOWERED – exploring how energy is generated, stored, and distributed. 

To prepare for their big day, the Innovators arrived early Saturday morning to the competition to fine tune their robot, and practice their presentation.

The Innovators started the competition off by presenting their research poster to the three judges present. Our Innovators worked hard to ensure their viewers knew everything there was to know about Dyson spheres (a Dyson sphere is a hypothesized spherical megastructure which would encapsulate the entire sun and capture all of its energy). 

Once the Innovators completed their presentation, it was time for the robot runs! The requirement for this portion of the competition was that the robot must complete a series of assigned tasks within 2.5 minutes. An example of what a task could consist of is having the competitor program the robot to collect lego pieces that symbolize fuel cans, and then delivering those pieces to power something. They were given three runs for their robot to score as many points as possible within the given time control. 

Since only four members of the team could be operating the robot at once, the 6 other team members chose to check out some of the other teams’ projects, or answer any remaining questions from the judges on their Dyson sphere presentation.

On the first two runs, the Innovators scored 110 and 105 points – which matches up pretty well with the results they were having when doing practice runs. Unfortunately, this left the team in last place. Luckily, though, there was still the final match. Our operators rose to the challenge and were able to score 160 points on the final match, bumping the Innovators up to 8th place! Despite not being in the running for the Champions Award or Robot Design, SJIC is still proud to say we did receive the Rising Star Award! On top of this, one of the judges complimented our robotics instructor Matthew Olivo personally for the Innovators unanimously winning over all nine of the judge’s hearts.

SJIC is extremely proud of our Innovators for the immense amount of effort they put into providing great results in the competition – especially considering our team was formed in November when most were formed in August – and their parents for their continuous support during this.

A leading center for STEM instruction (including math, 3D printing, and chess), SJIC offers a rapidly-growing robotics program for children.