Delaware team wins research award in international Lego competition
This Newark Charter School team, coached by professors from UD and Washington College, finished second in the world in the research category at the First Lego League World Festival held recently in Atlanta.

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10:38 a.m., April 23, 2010----A team of eighth graders from the Newark Charter School (NCS) placed second in the research category at the First Lego League (FLL) World Festival, held in Atlanta from April 14-18.

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The NCS “Patribots” -- Gavvy Aggarwal, Naman Agrawal, Jonathan Lobo, Benjamin Sydserff, and Nicholas Theopold -- were coached by Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware, and Austin Lobo, chair and associate professor of mathematics and computer science at Washington College in Chestertown, Md.

Eighty-four teams from 32 countries were invited to compete in the event, including 52 teams from the United States that earned spots by placing first in their state tournaments. The Patribots represented Delaware and parts of the tristate area.

The teams competed in three categories -- research on the theme of improving transportation, teamwork, and the robot challenge. Awards included technical awards in each of the three categories, judges' awards for team spirit, and an overall award.

Cited for their “innovative solution,” the Delaware team proposed to improve bus transportation in schools through the use of “smart badges” and real-time GPS for route planning. This solution can potentially shorten the wait time of school kids at their bus stops and the total time they spend in buses each day.

“It was great to see that our 8th graders could define a research problem that was meaningful to them, collect data on their everyday bus routes, and provide a potential solution,” says Agrawal. “This is a skill that we would like to see developed in all our scientists and engineers.”

“When you realize that the first-place team was from Egypt and the second-place team was from Newark, Delaware, it places our students' accomplishment in a world-class context,” says NCS director Greg Meece.

Following the students' win at the state tournament, members of the Delaware Legislature invited the team to Legislative Hall in Dover, where they received official tributes from both the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate.

Article by Diane Kukich

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