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Building bricks for state championships


WL-WV teams qualify to compete Jan. 18 and 19 in Hillsboro

Everything clicked into place for six Lego robotics teams from West Linn-Wilsonville schools. Sixteen primary- and middle-school teams represented the district at a qualifying competition held Dec. 14 and 15 at Mentor Graphics in Wilsonville.

Six of those teams qualified to compete in the state tournament to be held Jan. 18 in Hillsboro.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Wilsonville's Full STEAM Lego robotics team, including fifth-graders Caden Keyston, Kullen Whittaker and Camden Miller, took second place overall at the Mentor Graphics qualifying tournament Dec. 15 and will advance to the state championship this month.The following teams represented Wilsonville at the qualifying competition: Robo Team, Squeaky Wheelz, RoBosses, Full STEAM, Wolverines and Woodbots.

Although the Lego robots seem like the stars of the competition, teams are judged on other areas in addition to their robots’ performance in challenging activities.

Each year, the FIRST Lego League creates a themed challenge. This year’s theme, “Nature’s Fury,” centers on natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, typhoons and hurricanes. Starting last fall, teams chose a type of disaster and researched it in addition to constructing a Lego robot for competition.

“You’re supposed to do all kinds of research, talking to professionals in the field, finding out how that is a problem in a community,” RoBosses coach Marci Lister said. “They’re supposed to come up with an innovative solution, research the logistics behind that solution and then present it.”

The RoBosses, for example, chose to research tornados, focusing on surviving the aftermath. They created a campaign they call “Cloth in a Pinch” that shows how survivors can use a simple piece of cloth, like a bandana, in many ways, from filtering air and water to providing emergency first aid. The RoBosses’ project took first place at the qualifying tournament.

Another Wilsonville team shined in a different area of judging — promoting FIRST values such as teamwork.

“Squeaky Weelz, a veteran team of young kids ... were a shining example of gracious professionalism by lending new robot tire treads to their friends and rivals Full STEAM the night before competition took place,” Lister said.

Squeaky Wheelz earned fourth place overall and will represent the school district at the state championships.

Full STEAM took second place overall at the qualifying tournament and will represent the district at the state championship in January.

On the West Linn side of the district, Trillium Creek Primary School sent four teams to the qualifying competition: Brick Breakers, Wave Breakers, TC Minifig Millionaires and Neon Robots.

Four teams from Rosemont Ridge Middle School also competed, with three advancing to the state tournament: GIRLS, NetBoys and Lego Megos.

“Each team represented our school and our district well,” Rosemont Principal Debi Briggs-Crispin said. “We are so proud of each and every team member and grateful to their coaches and families for the support they have given these young scientists.”

West Linn’s other middle school, Athey Creek, also sent two teams, including ACES, a team of mostly sixth-graders that qualified for the state tournament.

“ACES took first in the regional competition that day,” said Sally LeBlanc, one of the team’s three coaches. “They also took the highest performing robot award. They got the highest score of the day.”

The Intel Oregon FIRST Lego League championship tournament will be held Jan. 18 and 19 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. Visit ortop.org/fll for tournament information.

Kate Hoots can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @CommuniKater.