School’s robotics team wins trophy at regional meet

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL—The team from Dual Immersion Academy, a District 51 school, won the judge’s choice trophy recently at a FIRST LEGO League regional robotics competition.



Dual Immersion Academy this month became the second District 51 elementary school ever to participate in a FIRST LEGO League robotics competition.

New Emerson was the first local school to create a league team starting last year. New Emerson’s Team CAT-astophe, Dual Immersion’s Robots Galore Spanish and More, Riverside Education Center’s REC-ing Crew, the Techniticians from Bookcliff Middle School and 15 other teams competed in a regional qualifying competition Nov. 2 in Glenwood Springs.

One team from Basalt Middle School and three teams from Aspen Middle School qualified to advance to the state championship Dec. 14 in Aurora. Dual Immersion’s team won the judge’s choice trophy.

FIRST LEGO League is an international robotics program that provides students ages 9-16 with kits filled with LEGOs and other parts to make a robot. Teams of up to 10 students build and program the robot to perform a list of tasks outlined by FIRST LEGO League. Teams are scored at competitions based on how well their robots perform those tasks, which are related to a theme. This year’s theme was natural disasters.

Students also make a presentation to judges in which they suggest a solution for a problem related to the year’s theme. In Dual Immersion’s case, they proposed creating an app that would allow people trapped in a tornado to contact 911 and loved ones.

Inaugural members of the bilingual team from Dual Immersion are Luis Flores, Jose Garcia, Lauren Gustafson, Emily Leane, Arianna Miklos, Chad Nilsen, Cole Pierce, Morgan Raimer, Davian Sandavol, and Shilo Trowbridge. Palisade High School students Evan Atchinson and Matthew Gottschalle and Colorado Mesa University computer science student Jared Sharpe and writer Bryce MacEvoy coached the team of fourth- and fifth-graders, who were overseen by team coordinator and parent Shirley Nilsen.

Nilsen said the idea to start a team at Dual Immersion came from another parent who has since moved. The team began meeting in April and began work on its robot in August. The team met twice a week after school began and three times a week in October to work on the robot and its tornado app presentation.

Nilsen said the team was thrilled to get a judge’s choice trophy in its rookie year. The team has suspended practice for now following the qualifying competition, she said, but may come back next year if there is interest.


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