Hollis students win at FIRST Lego League World Festival

Leila Caplan, Kail Arthur and Steven Szczeszynski, of Hollis, represented New Hampshire at the FIRST Lego League World Festival in St. Louis recently, and the team of middle school students, known as Squirt the Turtle, won the Robot Performance competition.

The team outcompeted top teams representing countries from all over the world.

FLL is an international competition organized by FIRST for students ages 9-14 in the U.S. and Canada, and ages 9-16 elsewhere. Each August, FLL releases a new theme-based robotics and project challenge. The robotics portion of the competition involves the design and programming of Lego-based robots using the Lego Mindstorms unit. The robot must operate autonomously on a playing field to accomplish various points-based tasks.

In addition, FLL includes an innovative project component. The students must create a solution to a real-world problem based on the theme and promote their idea to the community. Squirt the Turtle created a competitive water bottle recycling game to reflect this year’s theme, "Trash Trek."

The festival is a culminating event of the FIRST Lego League season. It is a four-day competition that brings ftogether 108 teams from around the world. The teams share ideas and compete with one another in the robotics, project and core values categories.

At a more preliminary level, beginner FLL teams can compete at the Hollis Brookline High School FLL Qualifier, sponsored by the school’s FIRST Robotics team in November, and possibly at the New Hampshire state Finals in December.

Squirt the Turtle’s sponsors were: "Gold level," The Art of Dentistry; "Silver level," Hollis House of Pizza; :Bronze level," Cook & Cook Real Estate Group, Hollis Veterinary Hospital and private donors.

For more information about the FIRST Lego League program, visit www.firstlegoleague.org.