Several area schools advance to FIRST LEGO League state championship in Atlanta

Authored By matt.pulford

More than 30 elementary and middle schools from Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee competed Saturday in the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Super Regional Competition facilitated by TVA and hosted at UTC, with the victors advancing to the Georgia state championship Jan. 23.

Winning teams are: Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts, Chattanooga Christian School, Annoor Academy, Saddle Ridge Middle School, Gilbert Elementary, Rock Springs Elementary and a home school team. 

Finalists at the upcoming Atlanta FLL competition will compete at the international tournament in St. Louis, said Charles Spencer, TVA program manager. And regardless of winning or losing, all competing students were hopefully encouraged and inspired to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematic disciplines, he said.

“TVA believes in fostering STEM education to help train students for future, technical jobs,” Spencer said. “We are tying to help schools do what they can for their students . [by] supporting their robotics programs. The kids of today are never too young to get started.”

Saturday’s semi-final tournament pitted 10-person teams against each other in a series of challenges, Spencer said.

According to the UTC event page, the students were graded on three parts: the robot game, the project and the fulfillment of FLL core values.

In the first part of the challenge, teams programed an autonomous robot to score points on a playing field. Next, the teams were tasked to develop a solution to an identified project. All the while, students were expected to follow the core values of the program, such as “gracious professionalism” and “cooperation.”

Students learned programming and politeness while putting curriculum material to practice, Spencer said. 

“These programs are so embraced by the educators as a practical application of what kids get out of a book,” Spencer said. “They have taken off in the past few years, and we have tried to support them as we can.”

The event was underwritten by TVA employees, and UTC provided the venue free of charge, Spencer said. 

EPB, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton County Department of Education, Chattanooga State Community College and WDEF also sponsored the event, Spencer said.

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann attended the competition and was an event speaker.