Garden School wins Lego contest


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A group of students from the Garden School in Jackson Heights came away with the first place prize out of 36 teams in the First Lego League (FLL) competition.
The competition, which included teams from throughout Queens and took place at Aviation High School in Long Island City on January 23, was the first step for the team, who hopes to go on and do well in the citywide contest in March.
Fourteen Garden School students between the ages of nine and 14 made up the Roboneers, which the team selected as it name because it is a cross between robotics and engineers. They began training in August and meet up twice a week
The teams in the competition had to design their robot in a way that it could get through an obstacle course. The robots were not graded on how complex they were, but on how well they performed.
“I personally believe we won the award because we tried to minimize the use of dead reckoning and relied heavily on the sensors for orientation,” said coach Peter Glus.
Dead reckoning is a robot program, which is not unlike a person memorizing where all the furniture is in their house to avoid it all when it is too dark to see, according to Glus. The problem here is that if the furniture is moved at all or if you walk with a different stride, you bump into it.
Instead, the Roboneers designed their robot to use light and touch sensors. This allows it to respond to small changes in the obstacle course and feel its way through.
The FLL encourages teamwork, fun and creative minds, but makes sure to stress friendly competition and “gracious professionalism” as well.
“It was evident that everyone worked very hard and was having a great time,” Glus recalled. “The environment was electrifying, even if you were not a nerd!”
Next up for the Roboneers is the citywide competition on March 14 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan. They will compete against the winning teams from the other four boroughs. If they get past this round, they will proceed to the regional competition.