Blue Builders ready for statewide robotics tournament

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This weekend, more than 300 local Rhode Island youth, in 40 student teams made up of students ages nine to 14, will be competing in the 15th annual FIRST LEGO League Rhode Island Robotics Tournament at Roger Williams University for the FIRST LEGO League State Championship title.

The Bright Blue Builders are a Cranston team, and they’ve been preparing for the Jan. 16 event. Their LEGO robot, “Bob,” will be competing head-to-head on an obstacle course as the audience watches intently.

The student team members include Tyler Shammas, Rowan Chaves, Lucien Chidester, and Tam Alpaio. Their coaches are Joseph Chaves and Renae Chaves.

In November, the team competed in the qualifying tournament at the Gordon School. This was one of five competitions happening around Rhode Island. They earned second place, securing them a spot in the State Championship tournament this weekend.

The Bright Blue Builders described their robot Bob in their team’s qualifying paperwork.

“He has eyes. We tried to make him as blue as possible because we are the Bright Blue Builders. His name is Bob and he has trouble connecting to Bluetooth,” they wrote.

According to Joseph Chaves, at the Championship tournament the judges will judge the team on their project, their robot design, and their core values, including whether or not they can work together and be friendly throughout the competition.

Their project goes with this year’s theme of “exploring the hidden world of trash in the Trash Trek Challenge, and is a recycling project involving recycling Styrofoam at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center (RIRRC) through the use of darkling beetles.

At the qualifying event, Chaves said his team spent every spare minute they had improving their programs, right up to the last minute before their final round.

“That paid off,” he said. “Because of the extra program they wrote, that day, they gave them an extra 53 points and a total store of 311, earning them second place. Needless to say, I was proud of them.”

As they look ahead to this weekend’s competition, the team members and coaches are getting very excited.

“We are all excited about this week’s competition,” Chaves said. “Their programs have been improved, their robot has been modified, and their project showing how meal worms can help recycle Styrofoam has been updated. If their robot is successful on all of their planned missions, they will earn 427 points this time.”

Saturday’s event will take place from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information about FIRST LEGO and their events, visit firstlegoleague.org.

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