Sparta Robotics advances to state championship

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:32

SPARTA — The Sparta Robotics Club took a big bite out of this year’s First LEGO League (FFL) Regional Qualifier Tournament in Lafayette last Saturday. “All four of our teams did really well,” said Sparta parent and club coach Ken Johnson. “It's especially impressive that our rookies were able to come in and compete at such a high level." Teams arrived at 8 a.m. They spent the next eight hours showcasing their skills and proving what they learned about food safety — this year’s FLL theme. In the morning each team gave a 5-minute presentation about their project. It could be a speech encompassing their research. Many used posters. Some did skits. Members of Sparta’s Big Mac Attack team popped out of a McDonald’s box dressed up as two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, etc. Later that afternoon the teams got three 2.5 minutes to show off their robot and accomplish the 15 tasks supporting the food safety theme. Sparta’s team mentors made sure that everyone got the chance to run their robot. “It was the first time for many of them to be in a robotics club,” said Sparta parent and team mentor Inga Roggero. Sixth-grade team member Bradley Vreeland was nervous. “The pressure is really on when you’re running the robot. And you don’t want to yell at your teammates,” said Vreeland. “You want to have Gracious Professionalism™.” According to the FLL guidelines, Gracious Professionalism™ is members showing respect to one another at all times. It’s one of FLL’s Core values, along with teamwork and inspiration. There is even a teamwork award and Sparta’s Big Mac Attack team brought it home this year. During the robot runs, the boys showcased their strong communication, problem solving, and time management skills. They also did the best job when the judges spontaneously challenged each team to build a house out of newspaper, tape, and staples. Big Mac Attack will try to prove they can win again this Saturday against 48 other teams at Mount Olive High School.