Robots may never take over the world but they definitely staked their claim to Batavia's Rotolo Middle School Saturday.
More than 300 children, on 32 teams from across the region, brought their Lego robots to complete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego LEAGUE Regional competition and attempt to earn a spot in next month's state finals in Arlington Heights.
Students had been designing and constructing their Lego robots for the past eight weeks as they prepared to demonstrate how their machine could play a role in improving the quality of lives for senior citizens.
With that goal in mind, the students were challenged with designing and programming a robot that could perform a variety of small-scale tasks like turning off a stove, determining the correct prescription container, attempting to lift an object and gardening, all in under two-and-a-half minutes.
Colin Pendergrass, 12, of Elgin's Abbott Middle School, enjoyed building the robot and said his team worked well together but they came up short.
"We did pretty good with our teamwork but not very good on the task board because of complications with the programming," Pendergrass said. "We designed a small robot that should have gotten the tasks done on time, but the program flaw hurt us."
Organizer and president of Fox Valley Robotics Ron Karabowicz said the competition was judged in four areas: project presentation; robot performance; technical design and programming of the robot; and teamwork.
"We start the kids out as young as first grade, just building Legos and designing smaller scale robots, but if they get the hang of it and enjoy the creation and design phase, we have something for them to do through high school," Karabowicz said. "Today's event is an opportunity for them to show off the hard work they've done in the last eight weeks, but there's plenty more to this."
The LegoWolves Division is for the first- to third-graders, the LegoDogs Division is for fourth- to eighth-graders, and the Coyotes Division is for eighth- to 12th-graders.